Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has made a thinly veiled reference to Prime Minister Julia Gillard's childlessness in the mid-year budget debate, saying the government does not understand the true cost of raising children.
Yesterday, Treasurer Wayne Swan announced a raft of savings measures including plans to cut the baby bonus from $5000 to $3000 for the second and each subsequent child.
''We believe that these changes to the baby bonus will bring it more into line with actual costs of having children. After the first child you've already bought the cot, the pram and other items you can use again,'' Mr Swan explained.
The Coalition said it needs more time to consider the government's "vicious and savage" cuts - which also include changes to private health insurance and company tax - but has suggested Labor faces a battle ahead to negotiate the changes with the crossbenches.
In criticising the government's plans to cut the baby bonus, Mr Abbott today told Channel Seven: ''[Often] one child is still in the cot when the other one comes along, one child is still in the pram when the second one comes along, so you actually need to get an extra cot or a double-sized pram.''
In comments which have been been perceived as a reference to Ms Gillard, Mr Abbott added: ''I think if the government was a bit more experienced in this area, they wouldn't come out with glib lines like that.''
This morning, Ms Gillard would not specifically address Mr Abbott's comment.
''I think Mr Abbott can explain what he meant by that line,'' she told ABC Radio.
But the Prime Minister said the government was making a ''structural save on the baby bonus, that's absolutely true'' for the long-term health of the budget.
Ms Gillard added that the government was working with Australian families on cost of living pressures, citing the example of the School Kids Bonus.
But the Coalition has warned the government will face difficult negotiations to convince the crossbenches to back the cuts.
''I think much of these changes will be opposed by the crossbenches, delayed," Manager of Opposition Business Christopher Pyne told ABC Radio this morning.
Independent Queensland MP Bob Katter does not look likely to support the baby bonus cut. He said he was "tenaciously opposed" to any cuts to the payment.
"Those poor struggling little mothers, they can't get men to shoulder their responsibilities," he said.
But fellow independent Tony Windsor said the baby bonus had been a badly designed policy from the start, arguing there were ''better'' ways of helping parents.
Mr Windsor - who along with other independents and the Greens was first briefed about the mid-year budget update last week - told ABC Radio he would now look at the detail of all the mid-year budget measures.
Ms Gillard today said that the government needed to firstly understand what the Coalition's mid-year budget positions were.
''I think first and foremost we need some clarity from the opposition here,'' she said.
The Prime Minister said that while the Coalition was full of its usual negative ''huff and puff'', they had a track record of ending up supporting budget measures in the Parliament.
In light of the public focus on Ms Gillard's ''misogyny'' speech earlier this month, she was asked if she she regretted using the term.
Ms Gillard admitted she was a ''bit taken aback by the dimension of the public reaction'' both in Australia and overseas, but said she meant every word of the speech.
''I stand by every word that I put in the Parliament,'' she said.
The Fairfax/Nielsen poll released yesterday found 42 per cent of respondents thought Mr Abbott was sexist, while 17 per cent said the same of the Prime Minister.
The story Labor does not understand cost of raising children: Abbott first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.