AAP, with a staff reporter
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has seized on federal opposition leader Tony Abbott's refusal to rule out changes to the goods and services tax in a second-term of government.
Ms Gillard said Mr Abbott's plan for a tax "white paper" within two years was code for increasing the rate of the GST.
By not supporting Labor's school improvement plan, which came with a 10-year funding pledge in the budget papers, Mr Abbott would automatically jettison $5 billion in extra money for NSW schools, she said.
The prime minister said the opposition leader's use of the term "budget emergency" for the state of the books was a way of softening up the community for "more and deeper cuts".
"People should be asking themselves `What's next?'," Ms Gillard said.
Earlier, Mr Abbott says he won't make any changes to the goods and services tax (GST) without a mandate.
Mr Abbott said he had no plans to change the GST immediately.
"Anyone who wanted to change the GST, and that wouldn't be us, would have to get the agreement of every single state and territory because it is a state and territory tax," he said.
"And anything we might do arising from our white paper we would seek a mandate for, not at this election, but at the election after.
"We won't do anything without seeking a mandate."
Mr Abbott insisted prices would come down with the abolishing of the carbon tax, citing the introduction of the GST and the fall in prices from removal of the wholesale sales tax.
He said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) was vigilant in policing the change to the GST.
"We will have the ACCC policing the removal of the carbon tax," he said.
"The government tells us the carbon tax has added 10 per cent to the price of power. It tells us it's added nine per cent to the price of gas.
"If the ACCC is out there policing these things, presumably that means a commensurate reduction in price."