TREASURER Joe Hockey was jeered and cheered during his appearance on the ABC's Q&A program last night, one week after he delivered the first budget of the Abbott Government.

The audience questioned the Treasurer on changes to unemployment benefits, higher education, pensions and the health system announced in the budget.

Mr Hockey said the state of the country's books justified the cuts and other measures announced by the Government.

"After the 1996 budget, governments have been handing out money," he said.

"At various points it was based on extra revenue from the mining boom, in more recent years it has been borrowings. It has to come to an end.

"What we're trying to make sure is that the pain is as fairly as possible across the electorate."

One of the key questions of the night was:

"Prior the election, the Coalition Government promised no cuts to pension, no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no changes to GST and no cuts to ABC and SBS. How can you defend the budget, which you delivered last week, which basically went against everything you promised to deliver when elected?"

Mr Hockey responded by saying: "We have to do what is right."

"Now, what we are doing is increasing education funding substantially over the next three years, which is the four years that we promised to do it in. Right?

"So it was this year and the next three. We're doing that. We're increasing education funding substantially by nearly 9 per cent per year. We are increasing hospital funding by nearly 9 per cent per year for the next three years.''

But the clincher was this one: "Do you think it's inevitable that politicians need to lie to get elected, and do you think that an Opposition that was truly truthful would ever win an election?"

Mr Hockey replied: "No, I don't think you have to lie to get elected."

More on this at ABC News



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