MPs likely to add vote for budget
IT IS unlikely key independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor will block the Federal Budget when parliament sits this week, but they will be keeping an eye on cuts to programs in regional Australia.
The pair told APN Newsdesk they had not given an ultimatum to the Gillard Government over their budget demands.
After at least two meetings with senior government officials last week, Mr Oakeshott said the government needed to "show us the money" for a $3.5 billion share of the proposed Pacific Hwy upgrade.
The New South Wales Government, which made an election commitment to provide a further $3.5 billion to the project, has said it was only willing to fund 20% of the costs, rather than a 50-50 split with the Federal Government.
Mr Oakeshott said the NSW funding proposal was "absolute rubbish".
"These promises, from both the Federal and State governments, go all the way back to John Howard, Mark Vaile, Wendy Machin and Michael Knight," he said.
"This project was always going to be a joint funding arrangement, and I am fearful that the state National Party is now backing out of their commitment."
Mr Windsor said while he had no wish list for tomorrow's budget, he would not support a Greens proposal to remove the diesel fuel excise for mining and agriculture.
Despite having the power to block the passage of the budget, both Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor each said they were unlikely to withdraw their support for the minority Labor Government.
But Mr Oakeshott said he would not hesitate to use the delicate numbers in the House of Representatives to drive his agenda.
"I will continue to advocate as hard as I can on all the issues, and any extra power I may have I will use, and use it unapologetically," he said.
Mr Windsor said all he wanted out of the budget was continued investment in the Department of Regional Australia, where job cuts are expected next week.