PM keeps quiet on boat buy-back policy during Question Time

THE Abbott Government's boat buy-back policy and childcare rebates highlighted debate during Question Time in Canberra today.

Leading the Opposition's attacks on the government were questions on whether the government had abandoned its "boat buy-back policy".

Indonesian authorities questioned the validity of the policy after the election, while Labor has made it a key part of attacks on the Coalition's asylum seeker policies.

But Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused to give the questions oxygen on Monday, saying the government stood by its policies, but not detailing the status of the policy further.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison was also asked about the issue, after completing media interviews responding to Labor's claims of secrecy during sittings last week.

But Mr Morrison was short with his answers, not answering one question and later saying only the government was employing a "full arsenal" of measures to tackle people smuggling.

During Question Time, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also sought a guarantee the government would not means-test child care rebates, in line with a Coalition election promise.

But as Labor continued to test Speaker Bronwyn Bishop's patience - she reprimanded Mr Shorten for using a newspaper cutting as a prop during debate.

Assistant Education Minister Sussan Ley said the government had no plans to change the rebate but refused to guarantee the government would not start means testing it.

The government also revealed on Monday it would end debate in the House on laws to repeal the carbon tax on Thursday, before being passed on to the Senate for further debate and a vote.

The limit on debate comes as the government faces a lengthy wait to pass its key election promise, with dogged opposition from Labor and The Greens expected in the upper house.


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