The 2014 Federal Budget was Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott’s first as Treasurer and Prime Minister respectively. It also had the dubious honour of being the most widely criticised in recent memory. Predicated on a budget ‘emergency’, Hockey prescribed significant cuts to steer the budget back towards surplus. Social services and public sector agencies were amongst the hardest hit. A Medicare co-payment for doctor visits and restricting youth access to unemployment benefits were two of the more controversial items, and they mobilised a broad cross-section of vocal opponents. The 2014 Budget was widely perceived as unfairly – and unnecessarily – targeting the disadvantaged while the wealthy were left relatively unscathed.
The Epilogue follows the Coalition Government’s blighted 2014 Budget on its obstacle-strewn path through the Senate. Minor parties and independents hold the balance of power and intend on using it, leaving controversial policies such as the Medicare co-payment on legislative hold. Public animosity towards the Budget isn’t abating either, eventually forcing the Government to abandon the bulk of its cost-saving measures. Poor polling and party instability prompts the Prime Minister and Treasurer to shelve talk of fiscal ‘emergency’ or ‘crisis’ and deliver a very different Budget in 2015. But will it be enough to restore their political fortunes?
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