Abbott shies from revealing budget plan
Tony Abbott has promised to restore trust to politics but has refused to explain how he will balance the budget while delivering new spending and abolishing some taxes.
The Opposition Leader has also promised to do whatever it takes to scrap Labor's carbon tax, even if it means another election within a year if the Senate proved unco-operative.
''When I say there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead, I am telling the truth,'' he told the National Press Club.
Tony Abbott with his wife Margie, daughter Frances and parents Fay and Richard. Photo: Andrew Meares
Despite Prime Minister Julia Gillard's assertion that electioneering would be limited to the month before the September 14 poll, Mr Abbott leapt from the blocks with a speech long on rhetorical attacks but short on funding detail.
Declaring, ''I am ready'', his speech signalled an intention to dedicate the next 7½ months to the nation's longest federal election campaign.
But his pitch before an audience that included his parents, wife Margie and daughter Frances, was cruelled by an embarrassing security breakdown from his own office.
Tony Abbott addresses the National Press Club. Photo: Andrew Meares
A leaked email revealed there had been internal disagreement over when to come clean on unpopular cuts to government programs. Advice from his principal media adviser, Andrew Hirst, called for more of the ''vision thing'' in the speech but counselled against detailing cuts to an unspecified program.
Asked if he had glossed over bad news to protect his standing with voters, Mr Abbott said the program cut had been mentioned. ''At the risk of dobbing in my principal press secretary, we did have a discussion via email about a matter, whether it should be in or out. It was the Schoolkids Bonus and, as you know, it's in the speech,'' he said.
''It's not going to happen under a Coalition government because it's a cash splash with borrowed money and nothing to do with education.''
The Schoolkids Bonus pays eligible families $410 per primary school student and twice that for secondary school students.
However, at about $2.1 billion over five years, any saving would account for a only small part of the savings task ahead of the opposition.
Another saving confirmed was a pledge to scrap the low-income superannuation contributions scheme, which the government says would deprive 3.6 million low-income earners of up to $500 a year in super.
The Coalition is coming under increasing pressure to explain how it will fund promises to abolish the carbon and mining taxes, spend billions on new roads and infrastructure and support disability insurance, while quarantining defence spending and other superannuation concessions.
Ms Gillard setting the election date so far in advance was designed in part to force Mr Abbott to reveal his costings once the May budget provides an accurate snapshot of the national balance sheet. But Mr Abbott said ''the Coalition will reveal our costings after the government reveals theirs''.