Australian PM Tony Abbott now ready to triumph

February 8, 2015 7:01 pm

Australian PM has moved to stare down backbench
dissidents, warning their spill motion will fail and he’ll take that as
an endorsement of his leadership.
Liberal MPs who came out
yesterday expressed unqualified support for their leader, but the man
speculated to emerge as his challenger, Malcolm Turnbull, remained holed
up inside his Sydney home.
Abbott said the coalition was elected to end the “Game of Thrones circus” of chaos and disunity of the Labor years which featured three prime ministers and constant leadership turmoil.
Abbott
was flanked by deputy party leader and Nationals leader
when he made an announcement to media in Townsville. He
said the current situation was never about him but about delivering good
government.

“Should this spill motion be defeated, as I expect, I
will be taking that as a strong endorsement of the existing leadership
team, as a vote of confidence,” he said.

Through yesterday a succession of frontbenchers stepped forward to voice their backing.
Bishop – whose initial comments were interpreted as equivocal – said her job as deputy was to support not change the leader.
Treasurer
Joe Hockey said the leadership team had his absolute and unqualified
support. and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann rejected suggestions
Abbott’s leadership was damaged beyond repair.
Both Abbott and Hockey said the Government had to get on with governing – with both announcing initiatives.
Abbott
announced the Commonwealth would provide the immigration, Customs and
quarantine facilities to allow the city’s airport to handle
international flights from March this year.
Hockey announced a
crackdown on illicit foreign investment in real estate. It will also
press ahead with the agricultural land register to show foreign
ownership of farms.
Silent were dissenters, headed by WA Liberals
Luke Simpkins and Don Randall, who on Friday announced they would put a
motion for party leadership positions to be thrown open. Should that be
defeated by a simple majority of the 102 Liberal MPs and senators, it
ends there. Should that motion pass fresh nominations will be invited.
Turnbull,
the Communications Minister, who lost the party leadership to Abbott in
2009, is tipped as the only possible challenger.
He’s yet to state his position.
Turnbull’s
wife Lucy told reporters he would not make an announcement. He may get
his chance when he attends a scheduled event with Bishop today.
Tasmanian
Liberal MP Andrew Nikolic, an Abbott loyalist, said he had become
something of a lightning rod for discussion of the leadership, talking
to a significant number of fellow Liberals.
So far just one
didn’t back the Prime Minister. “I have not had a call since coming into
Parliament from a ministerial colleague saying I think we should
change,” he said.
“[Opposition Leader] Bill Shorten is sitting on the good ship schadenfreude rubbing his hands in glee.”

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