Former prime minister Tony Abbott has said his controversial 2014 budget is a “badge of honour” and “fundamentally fair”, while predicting an Abbott government would have won this year’s election.
Tony Abbott defends his prime ministership in 4,000-word essay
Says 2014 budget was “fair” and a “badge of honour”
Says he and Joy Hockey were “careful to avoid breaking promises”
Former PM confident he could have won 2016 election on budget savings
Mr Abbott has penned a 4,000-word essay for conservative journal Quadrant defending his prime ministership, which argues his government’s achievements “will stand the test of time”.
An extract of The Economic Case for the Abbott government, soon to be published, has been published in The Australian newspaper.
In September last year Mr Abbott was toppled by Malcolm Turnbull, who argued the Member for Warringah had not shown economic leadership.
But the now-backbencher denied this, writing: “The government’s economic narrative had been clear from the beginning — lower taxes, less regulation and higher productivity.”
The Coalition’s 2014 budget put forward billions of dollars in cuts to health, education and foreign aid, and saw it lose ground in opinion polls.
It included trying to introduce a $7 GP co-payment and making unemployed people under 30 wait six months for the dole, along with university fee deregulation and pension indexation changes.
“Judging things by polls, many commentators have identified the 2014 budget as the Abbott government’s biggest mistake,” Mr Abbott wrote.
“I regard it more as a badge of honour because it showed that we were serious about long-term budget repair and could therefore be trusted with the long-term economic management of the country.
“Overall, it was a fundamentally fair budget because it sought to end the intergenerational theft involved in piling up debts for our children and grandchildren to meet.”
Mr Abbott said he and then-treasurer Joe Hockey had been “careful to avoid breaking promises” during their time on the expenditure review committee of Cabinet, but his “no surprises” commitment was challenging, given there had not been pre-election debate about a Medicare co-payment or university deregulation.
But he thought people would accept the changes, seeing them as part of the Coalition’s pledge to control the budget.
“Especially after we had rejected the business subsidy requests of the type that previous governments had regularly approved, a tough budget should have been predicted,” he wrote.
Mr Abbott said he was confident an Abbott government could have won the 2016 election campaigning on budget savings and lower tax.