Blocks to the budget expected in the Senate
THE Federal Opposition is preparing to block a raft of the Abbott government's budget measures in the Senate, and is likely to find allies in key crossbenchers.
Among the measures in the budget expected to face a block in the upper house were the fuel excise increase, rise in the pension age and GP visit co-payments.
As Opposition Leader Bill Shorten prepared on Thursday to give his budget-in-reply speech in Canberra, he tried to up the pressure on the government during Question Time.
Mr Shorten asked Prime Minister Tony Abbott why Australians should "pay for this Prime Minister's misleading and deceptive conduct", alluding to broken promises on tax increases.
But Mr Abbott rebuffed the attack, saying he himself did not like some of the harder measures in the budget that were necessary "to clean up Labor's debt and deficit disaster".
However, while the Prime Minister had a relatively easy time in parliament today, the horse-trading is set to begin to ensure key measures can actually be put in place.
While the major budget appropriation bills will likely pass, both Labor and the Palmer United Party are set to oppose rises in GP co-payments and the retirement age rise.
And Labor's stance against the fuel excise may also find an ally in The Greens, while all three could yet oppose sharp cuts to growth in welfare payments and pensions.
The measures that must be legislated separately to the main budget bills are yet to come before parliament, but key budget assumptions show some need to be passed urgently in order to put the reforms in place.
However, Mr Abbott's comments on Wednesday that the government would not accept attempts to "completely frustrate" the budget agenda have already inflamed some tensions.
Mr Palmer, particularly, will be one MP the government will need to keep onside, with the new Senate coming in July, as he will hold at least four votes in the upper house.
He has already voiced his concerns about pension changes and the government's proposed "debt tax", as well as threatening to block the GP co-payment if need be.