BUDGET 2013: Abbott sidelines super to bankroll carbon tax sweeteners

AAP, with a staff reporter 

Tony Abbott has pledged to delay a hike in the superannuation guarantee to bankroll the retention of tax cuts and pension and benefit increases linked to Labor's carbon pricing regime. 

In his budget-in-reply speech Mr Abbott outlined almost $5 billion in savings, with most of the cuts to come from superannuation changes.

However, Mr Abbott repeated Coalition promises to abolish the carbon and mining taxes. 

If the opposition wins government in September, it will discontinue the low income superannuation contribution that is part of Labor's mining tax package, to save just under $1 billion.

It will delay by two years the phased increase in the superannuation guarantee charge from nine per cent to 12 per cent to 2021, to save $1.1 billion a year.

Finance Minister Penny Wong said the superannuation changes would "take an axe" to the superannuation savings of 8.4 million Australians.

All the savings outlined in Mr Abbott's speech would go to retaining tax cuts and fortnightly pension and benefits increases tied up in the carbon tax compensation for households promised by the government.

"The carbon tax will go but no one's personal tax will increase and no one's fortnightly pension or benefit will reduce," Mr Abbott said.

Ms Wong described Mr Abbott's measures a "sneak peek" of the savage cuts he would implement if he becomes prime minister.

Mr Abbott told parliament on Thursday night that "thanks to Labor's poor management over five years, there is now a budget emergency."

Mr Abbott would cut the public service payroll by 12,000 over two years, saving $1.75 billion and the 6,250 increase in Australia's humanitarian intake and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation would both go.

Treasurer Wayne Swan handed down the federal budget for 2013/14 on Tuesday and projected deficits for this financial year and the next two, before heading into the black from 2015/16.

He announced $43 billion of savings measures over the forward estimates, including the abolition of the $5000 baby bonus to parents, to help fully fund Labor's disability care and schools funding programs and make up for a revenue slump driven by the high Australian dollar.

While the opposition planned to support the government's savings measures, a Coalition government would not "shirk the hard decisions" to get back to surplus, Mr Abbott said.

"At least for a first term, until we're on an honest path not just to surplus but to repaying debt, an incoming Coalition government will resist new spending commitments that aren't fully funded, nearly always by offsetting expenditure reductions," he said.

Mr Abbott also repeated Coalition promises to cut business red tape, set up a commission of audit and stop the asylum-seeker boats.

Ms Wong described the promised commission of audit as a "secret inquiry": "Which would mean savage cuts like the ones Queenslanders are already seeing".

Ms ong denied Mr Abbott had blunted Labor attacks on the Coalition, and its lack of budget detail.

"If anything I think what it's done is made very clear the values that drive Mr Abbott when he comes to his cuts," she said.

"It's given Australians a very clear message about the sort of approach he'd take - a sneak peak of the savage cuts to come were he ever to become prime minister."

Australian Greens leader Christine Milne dismissed the federal budget as a plan without a broad vision that's beset by confusion.

But she says the coalition's alternative is even worse.

"Mr Abbott's alternative is worse, full of rhetoric but devoid of detail, the very magic pudding against which Mr Hockey railed."