Double-dissolution threat over Budget
Tough talk: Tony Abbott. Picture: Getty Images

Tony Abbott has threatened to call a double-dissolution election if a hostile Senate thwarts his Government's deep spending cuts and tax rises.

While acknowledging a need for "horse trading" over the Budget, the Prime Minister predicted the gaggle of independents who will hold the balance of power from July will roll over because they risked losing their seats in a fresh poll.

"What we won't accept though is an attempt to completely frustrate the business of Government," Mr Abbott said.

"I don't believe that they will try to completely frustrate the business of Government because if there was an election again, hardly any of them would win their seats.

"I'm not saying that the coalition would necessarily get a majority in the Senate, although you never know if there were an election on the issue of who runs the country - the Government or independents in the Senate."

Labor, the Greens and the Palmer United Party have threatened to block key measures in the Budget. All are opposed to the $7 Medicare co-payment.

Clive Palmer nodded off in question time yesterday before being woken by fellow Queensland MP Mal Brough, later tweeting: "Tony Abbott sent me to sleep during question time avoiding questions about his cruel & heartless budget."

Fully awake, he identified cuts to foreign aid as what his party would support, saying taxpayers' money had gone for too long to "corrupt governments" to be siphoned off by politicians. His party opposed the deficit levy and fuel excise rise and wants to examine the impact of changes to family payments.

Mr Palmer disputed the need for Budget cuts targeting families, seniors and youth and relished the thought of an early election.

"Well I'm trembling," he said mockingly. "I think for honesty in government an election is not uncalled for because people thought they were voting for one thing and getting something else.

"I don't think we've got anything to fear from the truth."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten deflected a question about whether he was prepared to fight a double-dissolution election campaign over the Budget, saying he wanted to see if the Government re-thought its strategy first.

The West Australian

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