Shorten vows to scupper Budget

Billions of dollars could be blown out of Tony Abbott's first Budget after Bill Shorten made clear Labor will oppose measures he believes tear at the fabric of Australia.

In his formal Budget-in-reply speech, the Opposition Leader said the ALP would fight a string of proposals the Government said it needed to reduce the Budget deficit.

Mr Shorten said Labor would oppose a change in the indexation rate of all welfare pensions, the increase in the aged pension access age to 70, elements of the Government's university sector overhaul, the $7 Medicare co-payment and the cuts to health and education spending.

It would also oppose a plan to prevent people under age 30 accessing Newstart for six months, the reintroduction of fuel excise and the cutting off of Family Tax Benefit Part B to families when their youngest child reached six.

He left open Labor supporting the deficit levy and other changes to family payments. Mr Shorten said the Budget would push up the cost of living for every Australian.

Analysis by the University of Canberra's NATSEM, commissioned by Labor, suggests under the Budget's main measures, a single-income $65,000 family with two school-age children would be $1700 a year worse off.

Once Medicare co-payments were included, this family would be $40 a week worse off this year and almost $120 a week worse off by the time of the next election in 2016.

Mr Shorten accused Prime Minister Tony Abbott of lying to voters about the state of the Budget and his intentions on taking office.

"This is just the beginning, turning Australia into a place most of us won't recognise - a colder, meaner, narrower place," he said.

"This is a Budget of broken promises built on lies. And just not just lies - systemic and wilful ones.

"A Budget that goes out of its way to create an underclass of Australia."

Mr Shorten said the changes to the aged pension, which begin in 2017, were particularly pernicious.

He said people in physically demanding trades would be hit hard, adding that Mr Abbott had broken a covenant between voters and the Government.

"He is breaking a promise Australia made with our fellow citizens 40 and 50 years ago, at the start of their working life," he said.

Mr Shorten said the change to Newstart for younger people was the single most heartless measure in the Budget, effectively sentencing young Australians to an "endless cycle of poverty".

Mr Shorten accused the Government of blackmailing the States into supporting a change in the GST to fill the gap left by $80 billion in long-term cuts to education and health.

He said while John Howard had been prepared to argue for a GST, neither Mr Abbott nor Mr Hockey was prepared to make their true intentions public.

The West Australian

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