Tony Abbott concedes his government’s first budget will inflict pain on Australians, but insists it will be for a purpose.
The prime minister describes it as a problem-solving budget for a nation that has debt and deficit stretching “as far as the eye can see”.
“Yes there’s got to be short-term pain, but it’s pain with a purpose,” he told Macquarie Radio in Sydney on Tuesday.
“But it’s also a nation-building budget.”
Mr Abbott will seek to calm backbench nerves about the budget at a coalition party room meeting on Tuesday morning, as a new survey showed consumer confidence tanking to its lowest level in five years.
The budget is expected to include co-payments when visiting the doctor, a temporary levy on high income earners, a future rise in the pension age to 70, the reintroduction of indexation on fuel excise and big cuts to the public service.
Treasurer Joe Hockey believes it is a “terrific” budget that will shape the destiny of the nation.
“If you are only looking in the budget for your own interest then you may be disappointed,” Mr Hockey told reporters in the traditional pre-budget walk-in to parliament house.
“But if you are looking for the national interest you’ll be cheered.”
He said there will be an economic growth package in the budget with innovative workforce participation measures that will help create the jobs that are so necessary.
But Opposition Leader Bill Shorten expects it will be a mean budget that will impact on the cost of living of all Australians.
“This is a broken promise budget full of bad news and Australians deserve better,” he told reporters in Canberra.
The budget will also include the commonwealth’s biggest ever spending on infrastructure.
Mr Abbott confirmed new roads will in part be funded through the increase to the fuel excise, the first rise since indexation was frozen by the Howard government in 2001.
The Australian Greens have confirmed they support the move, ensuring it will get through the Senate.
But Greens Deputy Leader Adam Bandt says they will oppose a temporary debt levy on high earners, arguing it should be a permanent one.
Labor backbencher Kelvin Thomson is thankful the budget is finally being brought down, given speculation of its contents has hit consumer confidence.
The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index has fallen a further 2.4 per cent in the past week and a hefty 11 per cent in three weeks to its lowest level since May 2009.
“I think it is unfortunate that the government has allowed so many hares to be set running during the pre-budget period,” Mr Thomson told reporters.
Junior treasury minister Steven Ciobo believes people will always reward a government that makes tough decisions if they are in the long-term interests of the country.
“The party’s stopped. Labor’s reckless spending has come to an end.”