The Prime Minister’s comments to world leaders in Brisbane for the G20 summit about domestic policy issues were “weird and graceless”, the Opposition Leader says.
Mr Abbott had told the leaders that his efforts to balance the budget were being frustrated by public opposition to his plans for a Medicare co-payment and deregulation of university fees.
“At best, this was weird and graceless. At worst, it was a disastrous missed opportunity for Australia,” Mr Shorten said.
“This was Tony Abbott’s moment in front of the most important and influential leaders in the world and he’s whingeing that Australians don’t want his GP tax.”
The Prime Minister told the gathering that he had fulfilled his election pledges to axe the carbon tax and stop boats coming to Australia.
— Urban_Roo (@roo_urban) November 15, 2014
Imagine the speech Whitlam, Hawke or Keating might have given to the G20. Then compare it to Abbott’s embarrassing, hokey drivel.
— Mike Carlton (@MikeCarlton01) November 15, 2014
But he said his efforts to “get the budget under control” were proving “massively difficult” because of the unpopularity of proposed spending cuts.
“It doesn’t matter what spending program you look at, it doesn’t matter how wasteful that spending program might appear, there are always some people in the community who vote, who love that program very much,” he said.
Mr Abbott singled out the proposal to levy a $7 Medicare co-payment as something that was proving difficult to achieve.
“For a long time, most Australians who went to see a doctor have been seen at no charge and we would like to see a $7 co-payment for people who are going to see the doctor,” he said.
“In most countries this is not unusual … but it is proving to be massively difficult to get this particular reform through the Parliament,” he said.
Mr Abbott also said efforts to deregulate the higher education sector were also being stymied.
“That’s going to mean less central government spending and effectively more fees that students will have to pay,” he said.
“We think that this will free up our universities to be more competitive amongst themselves and more competitive internationally but students never like to pay more.”