Finance Minister Penny Wong has dismissed Tony Abbott’s budget reply as uninformative and negative, but a small business lobbyist says the Coalition should be commended for its focus on small business.
In response to Labor’s 2011 Federal budget, Abbott labelled the minority government as a failed experiment, referring to Labor’s election deal with the Greens party.
“The Coalition is much closer to workers’ real interests than a Labor party that’s sold its soul to [Greens leader] Bob Brown,” Abbott said.
Abbott used his speech to appeal to small business owners, pledging to reduce red tape by $1 million if he is elected to government at the next election.
The Opposition leader also drew attention to Labor’s carbon tax, likening it to a cancer and claiming it compromises the credibility of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
“We have a Parliament that can’t make decisions people respect, a Prime Minister who looks like she’s not up to the job and a minority government that’s increasingly seen as an experiment that’s failed,” Abbott said.
Abbott also addressed rising living costs in his speech, identifying “forgotten families” as his main priority, but would only release policy details closer to the next election in 2013.
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“My commitment to the forgotten families of Australia is to ease your cost of living pressure,” Abbott said.
“Stopping wasteful and unnecessary spending will keep your interest rates down. Stopping or removing unnecessary new taxes will make it easier for you to pay your bills.”
“In good time, before the next election, we will have a consolidated list of spending and savings and people will know exactly how much the fiscal position will be improved under the Coalition,” he said.
Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, says the Coalition is finally “getting back to its grassroots”.
“A lot of small businesspeople didn’t vote for him at the last election, so he now sees that group as his people, which is good news,” Strong says.
Put Finance Minister Penny Wong says the Coalition’s budget reply lacks detail, particularly in –relation to returning the budget to surplus, claiming Abbott is focused solely on “mindless negativity”.
“He’d rather block surpluses than build them; he’d rather wreck budgets than write them. He failed the test of an alternative leader,” Wong said.
Greens leader Bob Brown used his own budget reply to attack mining companies, questioning why so few Australians benefit from the wealth generated by the industry.
“There is a problem in the revenue of this budget, not a problem with spending,” Brown said.