Premiers plan to pressure PM
Not happy Tony: Protesters at an anti-Budget rally in Northbridge. Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian

The premiers have vowed to pressure Federal coalition backbenchers to break ranks against Prime Minister Tony Abbott's Budget cuts as they warn the impact of some measures will be felt on front-line services within weeks.

But WA Premier Colin Barnett was accused of being "slack" after failing to show at an emergency meeting called to discuss the Budget, with Queensland Premier Campbell Newman left to speak for WA.

COALITION SMASHED IN TWO POLLS

All premiers and chief ministers except for Mr Barnett met in Sydney yesterday to voice their objection to the Federal Government's move to strip $80 billion from health and education funding over the coming decade.

As thousands of people gathered across Australia to protest against the Budget, including about 600 at Russell Square in Northbridge, the premiers said they would seek an urgent meeting with Mr Abbott and push coalition MPs to oppose the cuts in the Federal coalition party room.

Mr Newman said it was his "understanding" Mr Barnett agreed with the other States.

"We all know and love Colin," he said.

"Colin has a very strong and clear view about what he wants for WA.

"He has a slightly different view about the timeframes involved. Maybe that's because the Budget impacts are not as pressing for him. He will have to answer for himself, but getting this federation to work properly is in the interests of all people of WA."

Mr Barnett has said there is "no sense of panic" about the health and education cuts as they would not kick in for four years.

But the Liberal premiers warned yesterday many of the harsher measures would come into effect with the new financial year.

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine complained that an agreement to hand $1.3 billion to the States for pensioners and seniors card holders had been scrapped.

WA Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said he was amazed Mr Barnett had failed to show at the premiers' meeting.

"It's slack and lazy," Mr McGowan said.

"It's an abrogation of his duty . . . as the longest-serving premier and therefore the most senior premier he should have been there leading the charge."

Grilled about his broken promises, Mr Abbott said he could not account for what people had "heard" before the election. "It was always obvious we were going to have to rein back unsustainable spending," he said.

The West Australian

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