Labor may be willing to negotiate on the budget

SENIOR Labor frontbencher Senator Penny Wong has signalled the Opposition is prepared to negotiate on passing key parts of the Abbott Government's first budget.

Parliament resumes on Monday in Canberra, with Senators preparing for in-depth budget estimates hearings.

But the key talks over the fortnight of sittings will centre on major budget cuts which Prime Minister Tony Abbott needs the Senate's support to pass.

Mr Abbott on Sunday issued a statement reinforcing that the budget passed down a week ago was "absolutely necessary to secure Australia's economic future".

"When the Coalition last left office, Australia had a $20 billion surplus and $50 billion in the bank but over six years, Labor squandered this and ran up five record deficits and a further $123 billion in projected deficits and gross debt headed towards $667 billion," Mr Abbott said in the statement.

"In my view, that is simply unsustainable. We need to take action now or an even greater burden will fall on our kids' generation."

Sen Wong, on ABC TV on Sunday, confirmed the Opposition was prepared to negotiate passing the debt levy on high-income Australians during the talks.

She said Labor would vote for the measure "if that's what's required in the Senate", but that the crucial negotiations would be "up to Senate cross-benchers".

But her comments followed a frosty reception to the budget from both The Greens and Palmer United Party.

Greens leader Senator Christine Milne on Sunday was reported as ruling out any talks on passing the government's budget.

And PUP leader and Fairfax MP Clive Palmer said he would only back measures that the government had secured a "mandate" for.

He said the budget measures which the Coalition did not tell voters about before the election would not get his party's support.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne also said over the weekend that the government was prepared to negotiate, despite Mr Abbott not confirming the sentiment publicly.



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