Lessons from Queensland election wipeout – Aussie PM

February 1, 2015 4:37 am
concedes the Queensland election wipeout contains lessons for the federal government.
But
whether he learns them and holds on to the prime ministership could be
revealed in a landmark policy speech he’ll give on Monday.
One of
Mr Abbott’s senior backers, Attorney-General George Brandis, insists
there’s no appetite within the coalition to change leaders.
He repeatedly said on Sunday the cabinet and party room were united behind Mr Abbott.
“We
would be crazy to repeat the experience of the last Labor government,
which failed because it tore down an elected leader,” he told Sky .
Ministers
Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull, seen as the most likely leadership
contenders, have reportedly pledged not to challenge.
But backbencher Mal Brough, a Howard-era minister, has been urged to, Fairfax reported on Saturday.

Senator Brandis dismissed backbench rumblings as “a few
anonymous voices and a couple of people who have been prepared to put
their head up”.
“(Mr Abbott) has the strong and unanimous support of his cabinet and the overwhelming support of his party room,” he said.
Nevertheless,
the Queensland senator conceded there had been “some blips” in the
prime minister’s judgment – notably last Monday’s decision to give
Prince Philip a knighthood.
That led to what Senator Brandis labelled the government’s very worst week.
“But they were errors in judgment about fripperies,” he said.
“If
he makes the wrong call on something as ephemeral as whether or not
Prince Philip should be a knight of the order of , heavens
above, that is so much a 10th order issue.”
He was frustrated the
knighthood had turned into a “dangerous distraction” which caused
Campbell Newman’s government to lose momentum in the final week of the
Queensland election.
Mr Newman lost his seat on Saturday and
Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Labor team looks set to win government after one
term in opposition.
While Mr Abbott didn’t say what lessons he would take from the Queensland experience, Senator Brandis found two.

First
was a new volatility of Australian voters and secondly that reform is
hard to achieve without the public joining a government’s journey. The
devastating Queensland result comes as a new poll shows the government
trailing Labor 57 to 43 per cent on a two-party preferred basis,
compared to 55 to 45 per cent in December.

                                              Tony Abbott. File photo / AP
The prime minister’s
personal approval rating is wallowing at 27 per cent, according to the
Galaxy Poll published in NewsCorp’s papers on Sunday.
Senator Brandis had anticipated the polls might be worse than this.
But
opposition leader Bill Shorten said he would be “staggered” if the
coalition dumped Mr Abbott, given their fuss about Labor’s knifing of
Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.
Policies such as the Medicare
co-payment, university fee deregulation and pension cuts had caused the
coalition’s unpopularity, he said.
“If they think it is the
salesman, not what they’re selling, then they will have learned nothing
from the Victorian, the Queensland elections and the South Australian
by-election,” he told ABC television.
Greens leader Christine Milne said Queenslanders wanted to kick out both Mr Newman and Mr Abbott.
“It’s not just Tony Abbott, it’s the Abbott government policies that are the problem,” she told reporters in Sydney.
“They have to reject the cruel and arrogant way that they have been leaning on the poor.”
ACTU
President Ged Kearney said Queenslanders had sent Tony Abbott and the
Queensland LNP a clear message that Medicare, wages and workers’ rights
are not up for grabs.

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