The federal opposition leader Tony Abbott says it’s time to build a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia.

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But in replying to Treasurer Wayne Swan’s budget, Mr Abbott has failed to put a price on the Coalition’s plans for the economy if it wins the election in September.

 

Tony Abbott says Labor’s budget numbers can’t be trusted and only a Treasury update just before the election will reveal what he calls the emergency rescue that is needed to ease the cost of living and restore Australia’s finances.

 

Amanda Cavill has the details.

 

Mr Abbott has delivered his budget reply speech in parliament two days after Labor forecast an $18 billion deficit for 2013/14.

He has laid a plan to restore Australia’s finances, help families deal with cost-of-living pressures, and restore confidence and certainty to government.

 

Mr Abbott says a Coalition government would keep the current income tax thresholds and the current pension and benefit fortnightly rates while scrapping the carbon tax.

 

“So with a change of government, your weekly and fortnightly budgets will be under less pressure as electricity prices fall and gas prices fall and the carbon tax no longer cascades through our economy.This will strengthen our economy – because there’ll less tax hitting Australian businesses but not their overseas competitors.

 

Mr Abbott has given conditional support to a number of measures in Tuesday’s budget, including axing the baby bonus.

He says the National Disability Insurance Scheme has the Coalition’s full support although just how it is funded needs closer scrutiny.

 

But he’s warned a coalition government could not guarantee the Gonski school reforms would be viable in the short term.

And he says if a Coalition government is elected there would be a two-year delay in the ramp up in compulsory superannuation planned by Labor.

 

Mr Abbott says everybody would need to contribute to re-invigorating the economy.

 

“Tonight, I confirm that we won’t continue the twice a year supplementary allowance to people on benefits because it’s supposed to be funded from the mining tax and the mining tax isn’t raising any revenue. As well, we won’t continue the low income superannuation contribution because that’s also funded from the tax that isn’t raising any revenue.”

Mr Abbott says the measures he’s announced would produce nearly $5 billion a year in savings, which would be more than enough for tax cuts without a carbon tax.

 

And he says a Coalition government he leads would encourage greater engagement in the region that would benefit Australia and its closest neigbours.

 

“We will establish a new, two-way street version of the Colombo Plan taking our best and brightest to the region as well as bringing their best and brightest here. It will be part of a foreign policy that’s focused on Jakarta, not Geneva. All these commitments are affordable and deliverable.

 

Mr Abbott’s also pledged to produce a comprehensive white paper on tax reform in the first two years of a coalition government.

He says the coalition would finish the job that the Henry review started and the Labor government failed to complete.

 

But Mr Abbott says the top priority of an Abbott government would be getting rid of Labor’s carbon tax.

 

“There is no mystery to how this will happen. What one parliament legislates, another parliament can repeal and thThe Coalition has already announced that we will rescind the increase to the humanitarian migration intake because – until the boats are stopped, and we will stop them – it’s the people smugglers who are choosing who comes to Australia.

Mr Abbott says by working with the states, a coalition government would also produce a white paper on state and commonwealth reform in its first two years.

 

He says its objective would be to reduce an end waste and duplication between the different levels of government.

 

And on asylum seeker policy, the opposition leader has repeated his pledge to “stop the boats”.