Regions give federal budget the thumbs down

AUSTRALIANS have a scathing view of the federal budget, a Fairfax Regional Media poll of 3200 respondents shows.

The budget survey took a snapshot of views across regional Australia on more than 140 news websites.

The federal government faced enormous backlash over expenditure cuts, a $7 doctor co-payment, tertiary education changes and an increase to the fuel excise with an outpouring of respondents saying pre-election promises had been broken by the Abbott-led Coalition government.

Of the 75 federal electorates in regional Australia, the Coalition holds 72 per cent.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s biggest hurdle will be to pass the budget through the Senate after July 1, where together Labor, the Greens and Palmer United, who have each said they will block parts of the budget, will hold 38 of the 76 seats compared to the Coalition’s 33.

Rating the budget overall, more than 71 per cent of the survey’s respondents were critical saying the budget was ‘very bad’ and ‘bad’.

• 50 per cent rated the budget as ‘very bad’;

•  79 per cent said the government was breaking its pre-election promises with the budget;

• 37 per cent said they would cut back how far and often they drive if the fuel excise is increased;

• 49 per cent said they would visit the doctor less as a result of a $7 co-payment;

• 60 per cent said the budget was likely to change how they would vote at the next election.

Treasurer Joe Hockey faced criticism for being out of touch with ordinary Australians after comparing the doctor co-payment to the price of two beers.

It seems regional Australians agreed on the effects of a $7 fee to see the doctor, with almost 50 per cent of respondents saying a co-payment would mean they would visit the doctor less.

As hard as Mr Hockey has tried to sell the budget cut-backs as a result of “Labor’s mess”, it looks as if regional Australians have rejected that message.

More than 78 per cent of people said the government had broken pre-election promises and 60 per cent said the budget was likely to change their vote at the next federal election.

With a fuel excise increase, which would push up petrol prices, regional Australians could be faced with changing their driving habits to cut costs.

Family travel could change with 37 per cent of people saying they would cut back how far and often they drive.

Respondents were equally as critical of tertiary education changes, with 56 per cent of people saying increased bachelor degree costs would affect their decision to pursue a tertiary education.

A Fairfax-Nielsen poll showed similar sentiments to the Fairfax Regional Media survey, with 63 per cent describing the budget as ‘unfair’ and 65 per cent being unsatisfied with the budget.

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