Budget defender: The acid put on Warren Truss
THE Gympie Times took letter writer Chris Butt at his word this week.
We passed on his concern that we should "put the acid on Warren Truss" over the Federal Budget and its effect on the lower income earners he represents in Gympie's Wide Bay electorate.
Mr Truss responded at length to the letter and some extra questions.
Mr Butt suggested we ask Mr Truss - "how he condones supporting a Prime Minister who has made lying an art form rather than supporting his poor/elderly constituents... how he feels as his enormous pay packet hits the bank account each month and his statistically poor constituents battle to pay bills each week, if he really believes the Bruce Hwy upgrade would not have happened (without him)."
Mr Truss's staff responded to Mr Butt's claim that (former member) Clarrie Millar would be squirming in his grave," pointing out that Mr Millar is not dead.
The rest of the answers were serious, however.
We threw in that a lot of pensioners would agree with Mr Butt that they are doing more than their fair share of Joe Hockey's "heavy lifting."
Mr Truss said the conservatives were elected "to repair the budget and get our nation's finances in order, accusing Labor of having "squandered our nation's savings, amassed deficits totalling $191 billion and a gross debt of $667 billion...
"Australians now pay $1 billion each month in interest on Labor's debt," which would "grow at one of the fastest rates in the developed world.
"The changes announced in the budget are necessary to secure the sustainability of the important services that our community relies upon, and maintain Australia's social security net."
Asked if he was concerned that this bad feeling about the budget might be particularly bad in Wide Bay, noted for low incomes, Mr Truss accused "Labor and the minor parties" of "deliberately spreading misinformation as part of its "scare campaign about the budget... age pension payments are increasing and will continue to increase twice each year to keep up with the cost of living... pensioners will be better off when the carbon tax is gone... self-funded retirees will benefit from greater access to cheaper medicine and health benefits through (indexation) of income thresholds for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card... public hospital funding (is up) more than 9% a year for the next three years and more than 6% in the fourth year... a 40% increase or more than $5 billion a year of increased spending on hospitals... funding for schools will increase..."
Is he concerned about declining Government popularity in recent weeks?
"The nation's budget is not driven by opinion polls... it starts to repair six years of chaos, waste and mismanagement by the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd Labor Government," Mr Truss said.
"The Palmer party's secret polls are even less relevant than the dozens of published polls.
"The budget decisions are informed and driven by the need for Australia to live within its means and fix the debt and deficit disaster left by Labor."