Treasurer Joe Hockey sweats it out on Q&A
Treasurer Joe Hockey admitted it was a 'painful' budget and that he wanted to make sure 'the pain applies as fairly as possible across the electorate', on his solo appearance on ABC's Q&A.PT2M43S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-38klw 620 349 May 20, 2014
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Treasurer Joe Hockey has conceded the $7 Medicare co-payment introduced in the budget amounts to a new tax - but denied the Abbott government had lied to Australians that it would not introduce any new taxes.
No, I don't think you have to lie to get elected
Appearing on ABC's Q&A program, Mr Hockey was jeered early on by the audience in Penrith in Sydney's western suburbs until host Tony Jones asked for respect for the Treasurer.
"We didn't say we wouldn't raise any taxes": Joe Hockey addresses a live forum at Penrith Panthers Leagues Club for the ABC's Q&A with host Tony Jones, right. Photo: Wolter Peeters
"We didn't say we wouldn't raise any taxes. That's absurd because we went to the last election promising to introduce a levy for the paid parental leave scheme," Mr Hockey said.
"We said emphatically that the taxes would be lower under us than they are under Labor and if you have a look at the Budget Papers it actually shows that the taxes are lower under us than if Labor were re-elected."
But the Treasurer accepted under questioning that the co-payment was a new tax.
Holding to account: Particpants at the forum prepare to ask the Treasurer questions. Photo: Wolter Peeters
"It's a payment. You can call it a tax," he said. "It comes out of a pocket. It comes out of someone's pocket. A taxpayer's pocket. You want to call it a tax, you can call it anything you want, you can call it a rabbit."
He also conceded that the rise in the petrol excise was a tax increase.
The Abbott government has plunged in the polls and is under fire for imposing those new taxes and cuts to family tax benefits, tougher welfare eligibility, lower pensions and deregulated university fees.
The government is also under fire from state premiers and chief ministers of the territories for cutting $80 billion from health and education funding over the next decade.
Mr Hockey dismissed claims by NSW and Victoria that the impact would be immediate, saying funding would increase.
"We are giving the states an extra $9 billion in net terms over the next 4 years. They just got a $4 billion windfall from the GST, an increase in $4 billion in the GST," he said.
Mr Hockey said the Coalition had not attempted to sneak into government by keeping its plans secret before the September election. "No, I don't think you have to lie to get elected," he said.