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Abbott backs Humphries in battle with Seselja

Senator Gary Humphries makes a statement regarding preselection for the Senate.

Senator Gary Humphries makes a statement regarding preselection for the Senate. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has thrown his support behind incumbent senator Gary Humphries in the emerging fight for the ACT Liberal senate preselection.

In response to questions from The Canberra Times, Mr Abbott said:

"As a former Chief Minister, Gary has been an outstanding advocate for the ACT and contributor to my Shadow Ministry. He has my support."

Senator Humphries is staking his political future on convincing enough members of his own party that he is the best person to protect Canberra from Tony Abbott's plans for it.

Earlier Monday afternoon, responding to Zed Seselja's move to oust him from the top spot on the ACT Liberals senate ticket for this year's federal election, Senator Humphries said he would be "fighting vigorously" to win the preselection contest.

Experience and the willingness to stand up to the federal leadership, he said, were his best assets and what the ACT needs the most right now.

"There is a particular challenge facing the people of Canberra in the next three years, particularly if there is a change of government," Senator Humphries said.

"Canberra is going to be facing very heavy pressures. We know that this city will be the subject of some very tough decisions by an incoming government, as it has been of the present government over the past few years.

"Canberra will need a champion – a person prepared to go into the offices of ministers in that government and act as its advocate and say 'I am here to stand up for the people of my city'.

"I want to make sure this city is looked after even when hard decisions have to be made about reining in federal expenditure."

Senator Humphries said while he was in support of the next federal government doing what it needs to do in order to bring the budget back into surplus, it should not be done at Canberra's expense.

He said he had the federal and territory political experience to make sure Mr Abbott heard Canberra's case, and that he would bash on the doors of his federal colleagues to stand up for the ACT.

"I don't think there's any secret that we've made it clear we're going to reduce the size of the public service," Senator Humphries said.

"It's very clear we're going to reduce the size of the public service. It's very clear that there will be some decisions made in the process that will be difficult for Canberra.

"But there's a balance to be struck here and I'll be making it clear to my colleagues, as I've made all throughout my career in the federal parliament, there's got to be respect for the institution of the public service, respect for the people of Canberra, and to acknowledge that this city has to fare well into the future and nothing should be done which adversely affects the interest of this city."

Senator Humphries said Mr Abbott had made it clear during his press club address last week that all of his current front bench should expect to keep their responsibilities in government.

As a shadow parliamentary secretary, Senator Humphries is a member of Mr Abbott's frontbench.

He is the first ACT Liberal to be a member of a Coalition front bench in the Federal Parliament.

He said as a member of an Abbott ministry in government, it would be easier for him to make Canberra's position known.

"I think I've got a very powerful case to put to ACT Liberal preselectors that I have the merit they need at the moment," he said.

"I've got the experience that will count for this city and for the Liberal Party itself in the Senate in the next three years.

"It's not a question of whose turn it is. It's not a question of who's got the right to say 'well you've had enough of a go I want my go'. It's a question of who's got the wherewithal to protect this city's interests in the next three years.

"I believe I can demonstrate that I have that capacity."


  • Captains call Tony. Do you have one?? If so use it.

    Date and time
    February 04, 2013, 5:25PM
    • Seems Andrew Leigh may have gone off too early…

      Federal Labor MP Andrew Leigh said Mr Seselja's challenge was another sign of how Tony Abbott was radicalising the Liberal Party.
      "Senator Humphries is well known as a Liberal moderate while Mr Seselja is a close ally of Mr Abbott," he said.
      "Liberal Party preselectors should be looking to the candidate that better fits Canberra's moderate ideology, not the person who will shore up Mr Abbott's leadership numbers."

      Whilst fellow CT bloggers, “Robert” and “Felix” may also have done the same…

      Date and time
      February 04, 2013, 5:48PM
      • Tony may well put his support behind Humphries but Canberrans are fully aware of his plans for Canberra. The Greens will romp home.

        Who Cares
        Date and time
        February 04, 2013, 6:13PM
        • @Who Cares: What you smoking? The ACT maybe left leaning but there are enough sensible people here not to vote a green in. 2nd best Liberal choice is still way far better than anyone the Greens can offer.

          Date and time
          February 04, 2013, 6:55PM
        • Steve, The Greens aren't going to slash and burn the public service and put Canberra into a deep recession which will happen shortly after Abbott gets elected.

          Harry Lime
          Date and time
          February 04, 2013, 7:55PM
      • "Canberra will need a champion"

        Then I suggest neither of these candidates run. The only work they do is campaigning every few years so they can get re-elected to again do nothing but fluff around the edges. What was Gary's latest bug-bear ... office pot plants? Seriously.

        Date and time
        February 04, 2013, 6:55PM
        • I like the "Former Chief Minister" tag..kind of making sure Tony points out Gary is a winner (on the back of Kate Carnell's Bruce Stadium issues) which also makes a good point...Gary is a winner...Zed didnt win lol so this is just a second ditch attempt to get ahead in spite of the loss in the last ACT Election. This is just a way that the Liberals can split the vote between Simon and Gary and hopefully push Zed in instead of Simon Sheik

          Date and time
          February 05, 2013, 8:22AM
          • The next time that the Libs get in they will cut the public service, it has happened before and will happen again. Often it is the skilled people who leave as they can find another job paying better; ironically enough often contracting back the the service at a much higher rate. On paper it looks good for the government of the day because operating expenditure goes way down, capital expenditure goes through the roof, but that isn't taken into account.
            But the uncertainty will drive consumerism to a low, so whilst many public servants will end up with payouts and well paid contract jobs, it is the private sector which will suffer.

            Date and time
            February 05, 2013, 8:50AM
            Comments are now closed

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