Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott Remains leader by 61-39 votes

February 9, 2015 6:04 am

Australian Prime Minister says his party’s leadership
issue is “behind us” after he survived a secret ballot this morning.
The leadership spill motion was defeated 61-39 in a Liberal party meeting in Canberra at 9am (11am NZT) today.
“The Liberal party has dealt with the spill motion and now this matter is behind us,” Mr Abbott said in a video statement.
“We are absolutely determined to work for you, the people who elected us.
“We
want to end the disunity and the uncertainty which destroyed two Labor
governments and give you the good government that you deserve.”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, flanked by Foreign Minister Julie
Bishop to the right, walks to this morning’s party vote. He remained
leader by 61 votes to 39. Photo / Getty

When voters elected a government and a prime minister they deserved to keep them, “until you have a chance to change you minds”.

Chief government whip Philip Ruddock described the vote as “very clear” when he informed the waiting media of the result.
But
the outcome is unlikely to end speculation about Mr Abbott’s future
amid continuing bad polling for the coalition and its leader.
And his standing as prime minister has taken a battering.
A Newspoll, published ahead of the party room meeting, showed Labor leading the coalition 57-43 per cent.
It also showed only one in four voters were satisfied with the Mr Abbott’s performance.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, tipped as a leadership contender, turns up to this morning's meeting on his own. Photo / Getty
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull,
tipped as a leadership contender, turns up to this morning’s meeting on
his own. Photo / Getty
Mr Abbott had arrived at the Liberal party room shortly before the vote surrounded by his frontbench supporters.
Deputy
Liberal leader was next to him. Behind were ministerial
colleagues including Mathias Cormann, Christopher Pyne, George Brandis,
Josh Frydenberg and Joe Hockey.
Communications Minister Malcolm
Turnbull – considered most likely to challenge Mr Abbott if the
backbench-led spill motion had succeeded – arrived earlier on his own.

Spill motion a ‘powerful message’

Liberal backbenchers say they have sent a message to Mr Abbott that they want to be consulted and policies need to change.
“I
think that getting 39 votes for the spill motion is a powerful
message,” said West Australian Liberal MP Luke Simpkins, who brought the
spill motion with fellow MP Don Randall.
“It was clear from what
the prime minister said afterwards that he has listened to that and
he’s going to change. This has been a good wake-up call.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was surrounded by ministers ahead of the leadership vote. Photo / Getty
Prime Minister Tony Abbott was surrounded by ministers ahead of the leadership vote. Photo / Getty
Another spill supporter, Queensland MP Andrew Laming, appeared to give the prime minister six months to improve his performance.
“The
feeling will be we can go to the budget with the prime minister and he
will have a chance for a second budget and then we will see that sales
process over the next six months,” Dr Laming said.
“We are going to be watching.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the government was in paralysis.
“Australian families and the Australian economy are paying the price for the chaos,” Mr Shorten said.

‘Very bad day for Tony’

Former Howard government minister Peter Reith described it as a “very bad day for Tony”.
“He’s lost a lot of his position today,” he told Sky .
“I have no doubt people will switch across now, which will make his position even worse.”
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young described the prime minister as “tick-tock Tony”.
The lost spill motion meant Liberal MPs did not get to cast their vote on an alternative leader.
In 2012, Labor leader Julia Gillard won a party room vote 71-31 over Kevin Rudd, but lost the leadership a year later.

‘I will do my best’

In a video statement after the vote, Mr Abbott said he would do his best for .
He said his government’s focus was on “jobs, families, a stronger economy and a secure nation”.
“We do face many challenges. At heart, we are a highly successful country, justifiably proud of what we’ve achieved.
“In
essence, we are a strong economy with so much creativity and dynamism
and the challenge for government is to work with you, not against you.
“I love this country. I will do my best to help our country to succeed.”
Mr Abbott is expected to give a lengthier press conference on the leadership issue later today.

Abbott’s plea to colleagues

Ahead
of the vote, Mr Abbott made a plea to colleagues as he emerged from the
traditional church service that kicks off the parliamentary year.
“We want to put the internals behind us and get on with being the elected government we were elected to be,” he told reporters.
“To
clean up Labor’s mess and deliver for the Australian people the
economic security, the national security they deserve, that means a
focus on jobs, families and economic growth.”
Mr Turnbull didn’t give anything away as he left his Canberra apartment.
“It’s always a big day here in Canberra,” he said ahead of the secret ballot.
Ms Bishop also declined to take questions as she arrived at Parliament House after her morning run.
“Just let me through, thanks guys,” she said.
Ms
Bishop has pledged to stand with Mr Abbott against the spill motion.
Reports suggested she would not run for the leadership if the motion had
got up.

Leadership push an ‘ambush’

Mr
Abbott, who yesterday described the motion as a “very chastening
experience”, believed ahead of the vote that he had the full backing of
his ministry.
Outspoken Liberal senator Cory Bernardi accused Mr Turnbull of orchestrating an ambush, saying he was “up to his ears in this”.
He questioned whether Mr Turnbull could retain his place in cabinet.
“There
may have been the seeds of discontent but they’ve been fed, they’ve
been fertilised and they’ve been watered by those who have much to
gain,” Senator Bernardi told Sky News.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, an Abbott loyalist, dismissed claims Mr Turnbull was orchestrating the push to unseat him.
“He’s been a team player, absolutely. He’s been loyal to the prime minister,” he said.

Poll troubles

Newspoll shows the government now trails Labor on two-party vote terms at 43 per cent to 57 per cent.
Satisfaction
with the prime minister’s performance has fallen nine points to 24 per
cent. His popularity lags well behind that of Mr Turnbull and Ms Bishop.
West Australian MP Luke Simpkins was earlier confident his motion would be passed by his colleagues.
West Australian MP Don Randall – who seconded the spill motion – said the move had been sparked by voter anger at Mr Abbott.
“I can’t go to a shop without them saying to me ‘You guys have got to do something about your leader’,” he told reporters.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton had called on the party to pull together behind Mr Abbott.

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