Thursday, 24 April 2014

Joe Hockey signals big changes will come after next election

Joe Hockey signals big changes will come after next election


Hockey signals big changes will come after next election

As Labor builds its 'broken promises' critique, treasurer says Australians will have opportunity to make judgment at next poll

Joe Hockey
Hockey: 'We all have to make contribution
because nothing is for free. Nothing can remain for free.' Photograph:
Rod Lamkey Jr/AFP/Getty Images

Joe Hockey is continuing his efforts to soften up voters for
unpopular budget cuts next month – but he’s signalled many of the
controversial changes will be positioned on the other side of an

The treasurer has been giving industrial-sized hints
that the government will move to increase the pension age to 70, and
introduce co-payments for some services, including doctor’s visits, in
an effort to make federal finances more sustainable over the longer

But given that Tony Abbott promised without qualification
during the election campaign not to touch pensions or reduce health and
education spending, Labor has been building up its “broken promises”
critique in response to the Coalition’s pre-budget positioning.

ALP has released a new advertisement reminding voters of the prime
minister’s various pre-election statements on the aged pension.

on Thursday signalled that some of the big changes would not take
effect in this electoral cycle, but after the next federal poll. “We are
honouring our commitments and in relation to many of the structural
changes that we have to make, the Australian people have the opportunity
to make decisions at the next election,” the treasurer told the ABC.

groups have soundly rebuffed the government’s attempts to inoculate
itself from an electoral backlash – warning the government they will
regard any change to the aged pension as a broken promise, regardless of
when it takes effect.

On Wednesday evening Hockey used a major
speech to confirm the long-anticipated Commission of Audit would be
released next Thursday – and to point to efforts by the Coalition over
time to restore budget sustainability with measures including increased
co-payments and means testing for transfer payments.

Hockey all
but confirmed the government would apply a co-payment to GP’s visits.
“Well, that is certainly something that is in the mix – the fact is that
Medicare is growing at twice the speed of the economy,” he said.

“We all have to make contribution because nothing is for free. Nothing can remain for free.”

aged pensions, he said: “Well, there is an inevitability that at some
point we have to increase the age pension age, but it is well into the

“We should celebrate the fact that we are living longer.
We should celebrate the fact that effectively one in every three
children born today are going to live to 100. We should also not see
someone's life ending when they turn 65 or 70.”

The shadow
finance minister, Tony Burke, rejected the government’s qualifications.
“The day before the election Tony Abbott made, in no uncertain terms, a
commitment that there would be no changes to pensions, no changes to
pensions,” he said.

“There is no way of reading what Joe Hockey
said last night other than by recognising that they are gearing up to
break that promise.”

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