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'I have never heard such rubbish in all my life': Pensioner has a go at Tony Abbott over age pension changes

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Pensioner has a go at Tony Abbott

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is confronted by an angry pensioner on national television who is furious about changes to the age pension.

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey are defending accusations of untrustworthiness, saying their first budget was “fundamentally honest” and drafted in good faith. 

But the Prime Minister's greatest critic on Wednesday morning came from an unexpected quarter and left the Coalition leader momentarily speechless. 

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was confronted by an angry pensioner on national television.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was confronted by an angry pensioner on national television. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

During one of a raft of breakfast television appearances, on the Ten network's Wake Up, Mr Abbott was confronted by an elderly woman, named only as Vilma, who was furious about changes to the age pension and responded to his explanations on broken promises with: ''I have never heard such rubbish in all my life.''

But it emerged later on Wednesday that Vilma is Vilma Ward, 85, the president of the Bulimba Senior Citizen's centre and - according to a media report from 2010 - she served on Kevin Rudd's election campaign committee in his first run for Federal Parliament in 1998.

"Why don't you leave the pensioners alone? If we pull the belt any tighter we’re going to choke to death," Mrs Ward said on the TV program. ''Why are you picking on me?

"I challenge you: come out and meet some of the pensioners, they’ll tell you a little thing or two."

Appearing distinctly uncomfortable, Mr Abbott told the program's hosts that he’d been given a piece of Mrs Ward's mind.

"Fair enough, that’s your right in a democracy, to be able to tell the prime minister exactly what you think of him," he said. 

He then suggested to Mrs Ward that it was obvious that she had not voted for the Coalition, to which the indignant Mrs Ward replied: ''Excuse me, it's got nothing to do with who I vote for and who I don't vote for."

''Why are you picking on pensioners?'' she asked the Prime Minister.

Mr Abbott then said: '‘This is a fair budget, everyone is doing his or her bit, including, dare I say, politicians."

Mrs Ward laughed and replied: "You’re a comedian, sir, you're a comedian." 

Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey repeatedly made a plea for public trust and patience during their respective post-budget media blitzes, each man facing a barrage of questions over broken promises made during the election campiagn.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said the budget delivered a large trust deficit for Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey. 

“It’s a bad budget, it breaches a fundamental commitment to the Australian people,” he told ABC Radio.

“This government was elected on web deceit; they lied to get into office. This makes cost of living so much worse for Australian families. It is an attack on pensioners, and worst of all, it is the trashing of Medicare.

“This is a massive $80 billion hit to schools and hospitals, these are not areas you are able to cut without taking a massive hit to frontline services."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was in lockstep with his shadow treasurer’s assessment of the forward estimates.

“It’s a bad news budget, it breaks promises, it breaks trust and I just wish they had been straight with the families before the election,” he said.

“We oppose specifically, the increase in petrol tax, changes to the pension.

“We are not interested in supporting them gutting Medicare, and cuts to education are simply unacceptable.

“Australia doesn’t have the budget crisis to warrant these cuts. We will oppose these measures and we will fight to the end to preserve Medicare.”

On Wednesday morning, Mr Abbott was repeatedly forced to defend the character of his government’s first budget, saying it was "fundamentally honest" and the right thing for the nation.

Conceding many voters would oppose the measures, he stressed the changes were necessary.

''I want to do what’s right for the country, not what’s right for the government," he told the Nine Network.

"We are not going to cook the books, we are not going to make a series of rosy assumptions,” he said, adding that the government ''cannot keep using its credit card to pay the nation’s mortgage''.

On Wednesday morning, Mr Hockey mounted a defence of his first budget, which includes a $7 charge for GP visits, lower pension increases, rises in the fuel excise and income tax for people earning over $180,000, and cuts to family benefits, foreign aid and the ABC, saying "What we’re doing is good policy.”

ACTU president Ged Kearney said she was devastated by the figures in the budget papers, nominating the young unemployed and low-paid workers as the biggest victims of the forward estimates. 

"This is the end of civil society and the end of the fair go in Australia,” she said.

“Basically, if you are old, if you are sick, if you are looking for a job, if you lose job, if you are young, this government is saying, 'You are on your own.'"

Leader of the eponymous Palmer United Party, Clive Palmer tweeted: “This is a heartless and cruel budget that will cause many Australians undue pain and all based on a fairy tale about a debt crisis.”

Greens leader Christine Milne described Mr Abbott as a “warped individual” for his budget priorities.

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631 comments so far

  • Honesty hurts Mr Abbott ! remember we all have to share the pain...

    Go Vilma
    Date and time
    May 14, 2014, 9:54AM
    • He is a comedian .... but damn it is not very funny!
      Politicians doing heavy lifting ... LOL don't make me laugh. And to this this guy is actually serious.
      Corporations & companies get tax break. The poorest & middle class get hit the hardest.
      Wow ... I am speechless ..
      Not one reform of actual decent substance .... tax concessions for the top end of town, Negative Gearing, Super, Family Trusts, Private Health rebate ... & then we have the PPL ....
      What a clown!
      I am glad Hockey & Abbott will get lifted up like martyrs with their age of entitlement & never ending tax payer suckling ....

      Yuppy Ville
      Date and time
      May 14, 2014, 10:13AM
    • Vilma is a bad omen for Abbott. I remember a pensioner in a shopping centre up here in Brisbane - who once yelled abuse at Hewson when he began selling his GST package. We all know what happened to him and that. The trouble is, the Libs know that Shorten is as weak as water. He's no threat to them...

      St Lucia
      Date and time
      May 14, 2014, 10:18AM
    • I thought Hacka would be first with a comment to this article.

      David rthur
      Date and time
      May 14, 2014, 10:22AM
    • So, Clive reckons its a "cruel and heartless budget"

      Abbott has just given all his backbench seats to Palmer and Labor. Palmer will make a BIG SHOW of resisting the "cruelty" of Abbott.

      Palmer sees Abbott as his main advantage. With Abbott being so "cruel", Clive can step in and offer an alternative "liberal" perspective.

      Clive is no fool. He knows that a double dissolution in a few months will give him massive pickup in votes.

      And Clive personally hates Abbott, he will do anything to carve the LNP and replace it.

      PUP's policies might be a little hairy around the edges, but Palmer knows the real fight is in the centre, not on the loony right fringe where Abbott has taken the NLP

      I would NOT be surprised to see significant budget blockage, then the same blockages when Clive comes in.

      Will Abbott do a DD? At heart he's a gutless deceiver - he will try and slide around it. But Palmer WANTS a new election, so does Labor and the Greens. They know they will all takes seats from Abbott. Must send shivers up a backbencher - they thought they were in for another 3 terms, they get tossed after 12 months.

      One Term Toney might not see out 2014.

      Date and time
      May 14, 2014, 10:27AM
    • If people have no money, they can't spend.

      And our system is set up through our constitution, that makes the Fed Gov the one that is in charge of spending,...building services, and infrastructure etc. and putting money in the community through states...if the fed gov refuse to do this, as appears to be the case from this so-called sludget....well there will be NO money in the community, except private bank-loaned money..which has to be paid we will crash...simple.

      Date and time
      May 14, 2014, 10:37AM
    • Here we go again, Abbott is cruel so lets vote Labor back in? Short memories will easily forget they were just as bad if not worse. As bad as Abbott's budget might be it is a fundamental concept that the books need to be balanced. He might be going the wrong way about it but it needs to be done somehow. Looking at super and GST would be far more efficient and fair in my opinion.

      regional NSW
      Date and time
      May 14, 2014, 10:42AM
    • Another inadequate schoolboy performance from a man not cut out for the job and who deserves no respect.

      Date and time
      May 14, 2014, 10:44AM
    • @axis - agree. I think Palmer is just as dangerous. he can play "it's cruel, I'm more caring card" but the last thing you want is to replace a right win neo liberal thatcher loving Pinochet tea party leader with another one. Don't trust CP. Don't trust the right in any form. Trust Labor a little but super cautious and I find myself over the past 10 years going lefter towards socialist alliance and the likes.

      Date and time
      May 14, 2014, 10:53AM
    • Looks like ol Hacka and his LNP mates are in hiding, cowering from pensioners like Vilma. Tones has lost his bogans and pensioners now. LOL

      Date and time
      May 14, 2014, 10:54AM

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