Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing mounting pressure to condemn comments from Treasurer Joe Hockey that the Labor Party should pass key budget measures if it wants to support Australia’s mission in Iraq.
Speaking in Washington, the treasurer said if Labor leader Bill Shorten was “honest” about his commitment to support the military campaign, he would “immediately pass the remaining measures in parliament”, according to a Fairfax report.
“Everything comes at a cost and if Bill Shorten truly is honest about his commitment to deliver bipartisan support in relation to our defence efforts in the Middle East he’ll provide bi-partisan support to pay for it,” Mr Hockey said.
Speaking on 3AW radio, Mr Abbott declined multiple times to comment on the treasurer’s statements, instead praising Mr Shorten for his support of the Iraq mission.
“I’ve had numerous conversations with Bill about this and he is an Australian patriot,” Mr Abbott said.
The opposition leader lashed out at Mr Hockey’s comments, saying he was using the campaign in Iraq as “a source of political point-scoring.”
“Under no circumstances should our intervention be used as a source to justify hurting Australian people through this unfair budget and the cuts and raised taxes which flow through it,” Mr Shorten said.
Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen accused Mr Hockey of attempting to “blackmail” the Australian public into supporting the budget.
“It is simply disgraceful that Joe Hockey is trying to link his failed budget with national security,” Mr Bowden said.
“Under no circumstances should our international obligations be used to justify the cuts or taxes in this budget.”