Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is standing by Abbott government policies on health, education and other budget savings, as Labor seeks to link him to his dumped predecessor.
The Opposition used parliament on Monday to quiz Mr Turnbull on whether he still backed a raft of unpopular policies including university deregulation, the Medicare co-payment and $80 billion in slowed-down spending on schools and hospitals.
“All of our existing policies and proposals, whether they are before this house or in the policy statements by ministers, remain on foot,” Mr Turnbull said.
He said “tough decisions” still needed to be made to bring the budget back to surplus and grow the economy.
“The government cannot any longer be a spend-a-thon – that was the Labor way and it’s a way to ruin.”
On the Medicare co-payment, Mr Turnbull said it was critical for the government to live within its means.
The Prime Minister rejected an Opposition call to adopt their policy of reining in tax breaks for wealthy superannuants.
However, he added: “The government will consider all suggestions, all ideas of superannuation and tax.”
Asked by Labor leader Bill Shorten what policies had changed under his leadership, Mr Turnbull said he had committed to funding public transport and boosting innovation.
Mr Shorten said the salesman may have changed but the policies remain the same.
“It’s the same horse, just a different jockey,” he told AAP.
“Australians were happy to see the back of Tony Abbott but now it’s time for Malcolm Turnbull to do more than just talk.”
The Labor strategy comes with the latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll showing the Coalition leading Labor 53-47 on a two-party basis – a significant turnaround on the government’s past 19 months of poor polls.
Mr Turnbull’s net approval rating of 51 per cent is well ahead of Mr Shorten’s minus 24 per cent.
Labor retreated from last week’s attack on Mr Turnbull which focused on his use of a notorious tax haven in the Cayman Islands for his personal offshore investments.
Senior Liberals talked down the prospect of an early poll on the back of Mr Turnbull’s popularity.
“There’s quite a long way to the next election,” Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer said.