Opposition Leader Tony Abbott continues to criticise the Federal Government’s budget saying welfare increases could be scrapped if the Coalition was in power.

Treasurer Wayne Swan has hit back, saying Abbott is engaging in class warfare.

Jane Schon reports.


The Opposition Leader says the Coalition is facing a “serious savings challenge” and that he doesn’t think the government’s excessive spending is necessary.

In his budget reply Tony Abbott said he was confident he could identify $50 billion in savings before the next election.

But the government is sceptical.

Penny Wong, Finance Minister: “So he’s saying give me the job but I’m not actually going to tell you what I’m going to cut.”

Mr Abbott insisted his reply was not an alternative to the budget.

He went over existing policies including dumping both the carbon and mining taxes and re-opening Nauru for asylum-seeker processing.

He promised only one new measure.

Tony Abbott, Opposition Leader: “Starting in pre-school every student should have an exposure to foreign languages.”

Peter Garrett, Education Minister: “You know when Abbott was in the Howard Government they cut $200 million bucks out of a program that was doing that same thing.”

Tony Abbott’s facing pressure from inside his own ranks too.

Liberal powerbroker Michael Kroger says former federal treasurer Peter Costello is planning on making a parliamentary come-back.

Mr Costello has denied the claims but Mr Kroger says he knows better.

Michael Kroger, Former VIC Liberal President: “I don’t drink, and I’m not suggesting he drank too much at that lunch, but I’ve got a very clear focus. I know the date, I know where it was.”

Michael Kroger urged the former treasurer to “move on” which was what Peter Costello attempted to do this morning when questioned by Melbourne reporters.

Peter Costello, Former Federal Treasurer: “Reporter: Do you have any response to Mr Kroger’s allegations? Peter: Great day, great breakfast. Went extremely well.”

Jane Schon QUT News.