After admitting his government had suffered a “ragged week” during a marathon media conference yesterday to “clear the decks”, Prime Minister Tony Abbott took to Breakfast TV this morning to defend his Government’s record.
In a 10-minute interview with Channel 9’s Karl Stefanovic, the PM found himself on the back foot after the Today Show host told him “noone is buying what you are selling, what you are laying down”.
Abbott rejected the claim that his budget was in “a shambles” and blamed the Opposition’s “feral mood”, saying he’d prefer it if Bill Shorten’s team took “the kind of view that the Howard opposition took back in the 1980s”.
Stefanovic responded that Abbott was “fairly feral in opposition”, arguing the ALP were simply implementing the same attitude and political tactics.
In an effort to “clear the decks”, the government has begun back-pedaling on some of the tougher areas of the budget, considering changes to proposed tertiary education reforms, toning down the emphasis on families and the use of robust economic language.
“We used very strong language prior to the election to describe the Budget problem,” Abbott said.
Other areas which may come under consideration in future include the paid parental leave scheme, dropping planned restrictions on access to the dole for young job-seekers in their first six months in the labour market, and eliminating the proposed fuel tax indexation measure.
Abbot also surrendered ground in the ADF pay deal, requesting the reinstatement of Defence Force leave allowances, but remained committed to the 1.5% below-inflation pay-rise agreement.
Newly independent Senator Jacqui Lambie dismissed Abbott’s compromise, threatening to block all future legislation until the government succumbed to a rise of 3% over three years, however, in an interview on Sunrise Abbott said Lambie’s actions were a “form of blackmail”.
Channel 7’s David Koch and Samantha Armytage confronted Abbott on Sunrise too, questioning why the PM wouldn’t take a meeting with Lambie, after the Senator revealed she had been shunned on two separate occasions in the past five days.
“Look, to put Jacqui’s anxieties at rest, I will meet with her some time before the end of the week… She is refusing to pass any government legislation and until such time as she changes her position, I would rather talk to crossbench senators who are at least prepared to be reasonable,” Abbott said.
Koch said Lambie was free to speak with the PM today, “I’m just wondering if you have got a slot for her today?”, but Abbott replied that it was “a very, very busy time”.
The PM deflected the TV host’s continued attempts to set up a meeting with Lambie, asking “Do you want to be my diary secretary, Kochie?”
Here’s the Today Show interview:
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