Crossbenchers unmoved on budget despite government threats

CROSSBENCH Senators have reacted negatively to the government's latest efforts at gaining their support for Joe Hockey's first budget.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann were hardly at their persuasive best when they raised the threat of increased taxes should the GP co-payment and welfare reforms fail to pass the Senate, while Education Minister Christopher Pyne did not do their cause any favours when he intimated cuts to university research funding if deregulation of universities did not get the nod.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon said he hoped the threat to increase taxes was merely a "thought bubble".

"This week will be like Groundhog Day," he said, "just more of the same. I don't think there will be any significant breakthroughs.

"For instance, in terms of the GP co-payments, the government's idea for an exemption from the $7 for those with vaccinations is a little bit like putting lipstick on a pig."

Those sentiments were echoed by Palmer United Party's Glenn Lazarus with the Senator saying it would be the beginning of the end for the government if they decided to raise taxes.

"I think it would be political suicide for the Abbott government if they did try and introduce more taxes to the Australian public, I can't see that happening," he told a radio station in Brisbane.

"We hear a lot of negative speak from the Government about the situation we're in. I don't think it's as bad as what they're saying."

Mr Xenophon was also very critical of Minister Pyne's intention to remove university research funding.

"I think it was quite foolish of the Education Minister to talk in terms of cutting research funding," Mr Xenophon said.

"That would lead to a downward spiral our university sector and trash our reputation internationally with overseas students."

Deputy Greens Leader Adam Bandt has suggested the government scrap the budget and "start again".

"We will not have a gun held to our head in an attempt to force people to vote for cuts to university funding and to put students into further debt," he said.

"When you said there would be no cuts to education or health, many people believed you and they want the parliament to hold Tony Abbott to that promise."



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