AS Treasurer Joe Hockey prepared for a court battle against Fairfax Media, he took a grilling from community sector representatives in Sydney on Wednesday.
Mr Hockey, who was the subject of a front-page article claiming he sold access to the Treasurer's office for donations to the Liberal Party, took legal action against the publishers on Wednesday.
The action, launched in the Federal Court, will claim the stories published in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Canberra Times, were defamatory.
At the time of the publication, Mr Hockey responded, saying the allegations made in the story were "offensive and repugnant".
But as he sought to put out fires on the legal front, Mr Hockey was happy to sit down with community sector figures at a forum in Sydney.
The forum saw the Treasurer take a raft of questions from the floor, largely centred on pension and welfare benefit cuts, in good humour, but defended the budget as essentially to rectifying "Labor's mess".
Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott took questions on live radio, sparking a ferocious online response, after he winked at cameras in the studios while talking to a woman claiming to be a telephone sex-line worker.
Mr Abbott was also hit by a raft of strong criticisms on the budget, with some callers labelling him a "liar" and claiming he was "treating us like idiots".
He responded, saying that he "absolutely concede(d)" that some taxes were going up, he had "never suggested otherwise", despite pre-election pledges that there would not be any new taxes or rises to existing ones.
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