Abbott explains parenting remark was not aimed at PM Gillard

UPDATE: OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott says he was not referring to Prime Minister Julia Gillard when he claimed cuts to the baby bonus were proof the government lacked experience in raising children.

Mr Abbott told Melbourne radio he was referring to "his own personal experience" when he made the remark on Sunrise on Tuesday morning.

Asked on 3AW if the barb was aimed at the Prime Minister, Mr Abbott said: "Of course not."

"If she wants to take offence of course I am sorry about that and if she would like me to say sorry, I'm sorry," Mr Abbott said.

"A lot of people are very ready to read far too much into entirely innocent comments and this as innocent as a comment can be."

Earlier, Mr Abbott was asked on Sunrise what he thought about the government's decision to cut the baby bonus from July 1 next year.

Under the change first children will continue to attract a payment of $5000, with the payment for second and subsequent children being reduced to $3000.

The measure is expected to save the government $461 million over three years.

In defending the changes, which were contained in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook released on Monday, Treasurer Wayne Swan said "after the first child you've already bought the cot, the pram and other items you can use again".

"I think if the government was a bit more experienced in this area they wouldn't come out with glib lines like that," Mr Abbott said on Sunrise.

While Mr Abbott did not mention any member of the government specifically, there was immediate speculation he was having a dig at Ms Gillard.

Mr Abbott also said the cuts to the baby bonus appeared to "discriminate against larger families".

He again stopped short of saying the Opposition would vote against it and other changes in the MYEFO, but said "we don't like them".

"These are future workers. This is an investment in Australia's future," Mr Abbott said of the baby bonus.

"Having kids is the greatest vote of confidence that you can place in the future of your country.

"Why should a child payment be different depending on our birth order?

"Often one child is still in the cot when the second one comes along. One child is still in the pram when the second one comes along.

"So you actually need to get an extra cot or a double-sized pram."

On 3AW later in the day Mr Abbott said he and his wife Margie had to "spend several hundred dollars" buying a new pram as their first two children were born 15 months apart.

He said the government had shown it was "out of touch when it comes to these sorts of cost of living issues".

 

Gillard wants explanation on Abbott's baby line

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has told a national TV audience the government's decision to reduce the baby bonus showed its lack of experience in raising children.

From July 1 next year first children will continue to attract a payment of $5000, with the payment for second and subsequent children being reduced to $3000.

The measure is expected to save the government $461 million over three years.

In defending the changes, which were contained in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook released on Monday, Treasurer Wayne Swan said "after the first child you've already bought the cot, the pram and other items you can use again".

"I think if the government was a bit more experienced in this area they wouldn't come out with glib lines like that," Mr Abbott said during an interview on Sunrise this morning.

While Mr Abbott did not mention any member of the government specifically, there has been speculation he was having a dig at Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

A spokesman for Mr Abbott told news.com.au the remark was not directed at Ms Gillard, who does not have any children.

He was instead making the point the government was out of touch in claiming it cost families less the more children they had, the spokesman said.

But when asked about Mr Abbott's remark on ABC radio this morning, Ms Gillard said: "I think Mr Abbott can explain what he meant by that line."

Mr Abbott said during his Sunrise interview the cuts to the baby bonus appeared to "discriminate against larger families".

He again stopped short of saying the Opposition would vote against it and other changes in the MYEFO, but said "we don't like them".

"These are future workers. This is an investment in Australia's future," Mr Abbott said of the baby bonus.

"Having kids is the greatest vote of confidence that you can place in the future of your country.

"Why should a child payment be different depending on our birth order?

"Often one child is still in the cot when the second one comes along. One child is still in the pram when the second one comes along.

"So you actually need to get an extra cot or a double-sized pram."



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