Joe and Co catch a good bush bashing

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

The survey took a snapshot of opinions across regional Australia on more than 140 news websites, including The Border Mail, Wagga’s Daily Advertiser and the Eastern Riverina Chronicle, based at Henty and Holbrook.

The federal government clearly faces an enormous backlash over expenditure cuts, the $7 doctor co-payment, tertiary education changes and an increase to the fuel excise.

There was an outpouring from respondents, saying pre-election promises had been broken by the Abbott-led Coalition government.

The Coalition holds almost 75 per cent of the 75 regional federal electorates.

The biggest hurdle for the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is to somehow organise for the budget to be passed in the Senate after July 1.

Labor, the Greens and the Palmer United Party, have already said they will block key elements of the budget.

Labor and the minor parties will hold 38 of the 76 Senate seats compared with the Coalition’s 33.

Rating the budget overall, more than 70 per cent of respondents were critical, saying the budget was “very bad” and “bad”.

The Treasurer, Joe Hockey, was heavily criticised 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 effect a $7 fee to see the doctor would have on them — almost 50 per cent said a co-payment would mean they visited the doctor less.

As hard as Mr Hockey has tried to blame the cuts as a result of “Labor’s mess”, respondents rejected that message.

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

With fuel excise indexed to rise twice a year, regional Australians could have to change their driving habits to cut costs.

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

Respondents were equally as critical about tertiary education changes, with 56 per cent saying the higher cost of a bachelor degree would affect their decision to pursue 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.