Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the budget must be passed and the government will “carefully, courteously, patiently” negotiate what remains of it through parliament.
Not all news out of Canberra was difficult and vexed, Mr Abbott told the South Australian Liberal Party’s annual meeting on Saturday, with about half the budget measures already passed.
The largest saving of about $7 billion from reducing the growth of the foreign aid budget, had already passed as part of the appropriation bills, he said.
The prime minister said a stronger budget was necessary for the economy to be stronger.
“Like other governments before us, we will carefully, courteously, patiently negotiate the rest of our budget through the parliament,” he said.
“….because the failure to take decisions today just means we will have to take even tougher decisions tomorrow.”
Government ministers have been travelling the country talking to crossbench senators in a bid to convince them to support key savings measures.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann warned that Australia was still facing a budget emergency.
“We are facing a very challenging fiscal situation but the government is dealing with it … through the normal processes of the parliament,” he said.
It comes after senior ministers appeared to have distanced themselves from the government’s previous insistence the budget is in crisis, after Treasury figures earlier this week showed 99 per cent of the government’s budget measures have been legislated for, including $25 billion in savings.
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary Michelle Rowland questioned why, if there really was a budget emergency, the government had doubled the debt since coming to office.
“Why is it the case that they are intent on pursuing a rolled gold paid parental leave scheme which even their own side considers is unaffordable,” she said.
Adding another dimension, a report from the Parliamentary Budget Office warns that government spending will balloon over the next decade, putting the nation’s fiscal sustainability at risk.
The report, based on projections of spending measures outlined in the 2014-15 federal budget, including the yet to be legislated GP co-payment, Paid Parental Leave (PPL) and National Disability Insurance schemes will be the biggest drivers of spending growth over the next decade.