Budget attacked on all fronts

Staff reporter with AAP

The States are calling for an urgent meeting, Labor will stand up for marginalised groups missing out and protesters around Australia voiced their anger about the Abbott Government's first Budget.

State and territory leaders are calling for an urgent meeting with the Abbott government to discuss federal budget cuts.

The leaders made the call for a COAG meeting after emerging from their summit in Sydney on Sunday.

Only Western Australia's Premier Colin Barnett missed the meeting on Sunday to discuss $80 billion in health and education funding cuts in Tuesday's budget.

Protesters in Perth joined people around the country in voicing their anger at the Government's planned health, education and pension cuts.

Protesters gathered in Russell Square in Northbridge, in line with rallies which drew hundreds of thousands of people around the country.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey have justified the cuts by saying hospitals and schools are a state and territory responsibility, and they should find their own sources of funding.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman described the cuts as "completely unacceptable".

"There needs to be an urgent meeting of COAG before the 1st of July this year because we need to, on behalf of Australians, sort this out," he said.

NSW Premier Mike Baird said the country's budget problem couldn't be outsourced to the states.

"We can't afford it. It's a pretty simple equation," he told reporters.

The impact had already begun to trickle through, affecting hundreds of hospital beds in NSW, he said.

Victoria Premier Denis Napthine said the cuts would hit ordinary Australian families - and the blows would start immediately.

"These are simply unaffordable and unsustainable from the states' point of view," he said.

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WA protesters rally at Russell Square in Northbridge. Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian


PROTESTS AROUND COUNTRY


Mr Abbott was painted as Pinocchio and branded a wrecker and a divider at rallies around Australia protesting against the federal budget.

Demonstrators gathered on Sunday in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to rail against what they called harsh and unjust policy.

The resounding theme of the day was to question the prime minister's political integrity.

"Liar, liar, budgie smugglers on fire", "Abbott is a liar, throw him out", "Phoney Tony" read the protesters' hand-made signs.

Many signs featured caricatures of the prime minister with huge ears and Pinocchio-style noses or with his famous red budgie smugglers on fire.

In Sydney, where organisers say 10,000 people protested, the Australian Services Union's NSW and ACT secretary Sally McManus said the prime minister wanted to abolish fairness, equality and checks and balances for big businesses.

"You're a liar, a wrecker and a divider of our country," she told the crowd.

Mr Abbott, she quipped, would have "said anything and done anything to get into power" but has since racked up a ream of "broken promises".

She then lead a chant of thousands screaming "one-term Tony".

'March in May' protesters in Sydney, Australia. Picture: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images


Greens leader Christine Milne, who was among the masses, was struck by the upwelling of anger across the country at the budget.

"He's relying on the Senate caving in ... But we will not support these vicious cuts to young people, welfare recipients and the sick," she told AAP.

In Adelaide, 5000 vocal protesters marched to the steps of state parliament to protest against the cuts.

In Brisbane, Adrian Skerritt, of the community protest group the Cloudland Collective, told crowds that whenever there were economic problems governments took money from workers and cut welfare for the poor.

"They say things like outsourcing, privatisation, marketisation, all these stupid economist words," Mr Skerritt yelled to uproarious cheers and applause.

"They say these things are good for us. What a hideous lie."