Voters swing behind embattled PM

Mark Kenny 6:38 AM   Australian voters have thrown Tony Abbott a lifeline just as his internal opponents were shaping to dump him, with the latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll confirming a pro-government shift is under way.

Latest political news

PM goes in search of divine inspiration 

SMH/MERCURY.   NEWS. Nan Tien Institute Official Opening Event with special Guest Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo shows Tony Abbott with Wollongong Mayor Gordon Bradbury.  pic by sylvia Liber.  March 1, 2015

Emma Partridge 12:00 AM   Tony Abbott's days as PM may be numbered, but he adopted a beatific demeanour as he attended the opening of a Buddhist college in Wollongong.

Aid cuts will hurt international relations: ACID

poverty

David Wroe and Sarah Whyte 7:03 PM   The ACID has called for the aid budget to be restored by $1 billion in this year's May budget and another $2.7 billion to be repaired in the forward estimates.

Closer tracking of oceanic flights trialled

Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss says the oceanic tracking trial was recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Sarah Whyte 7:04 PM   Planes flying over water for long distances will now be more closely tracked, Deputy Prime Minsiter Warren Truss has announced.

Disability groups granted funding reprieve

Senator Mitch Fifield.

Julia May   Federal government delays a 40 per cent funding cut to the disability sector amid allegations it was in breach of United Nations convention.

John Howard out from hospital after scare

Former Prime Minister John Howard addresses the media after the 2014 Remembrance Day National Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on Tuesday 11 November 2014. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Dan Harrison   Former prime minister John Howard has been discharged from a Sydney hospital after receiving treatment for a heart condition.

Phone, internet data to be stored for two years

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's party is expected to back new data retention laws if the government accepts a committee's suggested changes

David Wroe, Ben Grubb, Hannah Francis   Phone and internet records for every Australian will be kept for at least two years with Labor expected to back the Abbott government's controversial new 'data retention' laws.

VET adviser steps aside after allegations

Education

Matthew Knott   One of the Abbott government's top advisers on vocational education and training has stepped aside following allegations the company he runs employed salespeople who lured vulnerable students into courses with free laptops. 

NT man who joined IS fight contacts home

Matthew Gardiner has made contact with his family.

Heath Aston   A would-be senator who left Australia in January to join the fight against Islamic State has made contact with his family.

Gillian Triggs hits back at resignation claims

Gillian Triggs President of the Human Rights Commission appeared before a Senate Committee in Canberra on Tuesday 24 February 2015. Photo: Andrew Meares

Deborah Snow and Sarah Whyte   The row between the president of the Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, and the federal government has escalated, with Professor Triggs denying she ever canvassed her possible resignation with other commissioners.

Comment & Analysis

'Positive' poll shows a dead man walking

Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull.

Peter Hartcher 6:37 AM   Tony Abbott's supporters will claim today's poll as proof that there is life in his prime ministership yet.

Poll points to threats and opportunities 

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten: Both men need to work hard to survive through to the next election.

Mark Kenny Chief Political Correspondent 11:45 PM   Bill Shorten and Tony Abbott are bracing for what could be a pivotal week in their respective chances of survival now and in 2016.

Poll will firm resolve of Abbott backers

"Internal distractions are never helpful": Premier Mike Baird's NSW election hopes may be hurt by the negative perceptions of the Prime Minister.

Michael Gordon 11:45 PM   Coalition MPs inclined to give Tony Abbott more time to recover now have a strong argument to back their instincts and resist any move to topple him this week.

In this game of thrones, Morrison is now key

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison will be a crucial player in any Liberal changes.

Paul Sheehan 7:23 AM   In an interview with Tony Abbott in 2010 about his shadow ministry, what struck me most was his singling out of one person above all, describing him as having prime ministerial potential. That person was Scott Morrison. I didn't see it then. I see it now.

Comments 55

'Take it from me': Senator on job hopes

Ricky Muir.

Ricky Muir 12:15 AM   My hope is that my story will highlight how crushing it is to be young and unemployed in Australia.

Comments 3

Death stare to Blue Steel: Bishop's game face

Annabel Crabb Dinkus

Political leaders often become well-known for a physical attribute. John Howard's eyebrows gave cartoonists, a whole new visual thesaurus for expressing his moods. Kevin Rudd's hair – studiedly casual, endlessly susceptible to breeze – became an allegory for the man himself.

Abbott could learn some lessons from Key

"The lesson from Key for Abbott is that while politicians must lead, they must also take people with them."

James Massola   It's not hard to imagine that Tony Abbott might have looked wistfully back across the Tasman to Australia once or twice on this quick trip and pondered what a difference a couple of thousand kilometres can make.

Is this Abbott's end?

Michael Gordon

Michael Gordon   If the government ends up embarrassed, or worse, over its treatment of Gillian Triggs, it can't say it wasn't warned.

We need a wider conversation on violence

Jacqueline Maley

Jacqueline Maley   We need to include Muslims and men in our search for answers to the twin scourges of terrorism and domestic violence.

Comments 29

Challenge to get right balance in terror laws

Cover of <i>Inside Australia's Anti-Terrorism Laws and Trials</i> by Andrew Lynch, Nicola McGarrity and George Williams.

Daniel Flitton   Australia's politicians and lawmakers may agree on the size of our terrorist threat, but there is a spectrum of opinion on how far we need to go with anti-terrorist legislation.

Triggs affair puts careers on the line

Gillian Triggs, president of the Human Rights Commission, is accused of trying to "stitch up the government".

Deborah Snow and Sarah Whyte   Even by the often robust standards of Senate estimates hearings, Tuesday's proceedings were a stormy affair.

PM loses Libs' trust and maybe NSW election

Peter Hartcher dinkus Dinkus

Peter Hartcher   The Liberals want to get rid of Tony Abbott but no one is yet willing to risk the taint of blood on their hands.

A tale of two PMs, and two old buildings

The Prime Minister's Canberra residence, The Lodge.

Tony Wright   There's a big old leather chair gracing a corner of Canberra's Kurrajong Hotel, one of the city's oldest buildings and recently restored to its garden pavilion deco loveliness.

Abbott makes for enjoyable viewing

The characters from Dad's Army.

Martin Flanagan   This Prime Minister isn't a leader for the same reason Kevin Rudd wasn't a leader.

Comments 5

It's time to end the PM's misery

John Birmingham dinkus Dinkus

John Birmingham   It's getting a little uncomfortable, isn't it? Creepy even. Watching Tony Abbott beat himself to death.

Abbott's leadership enters the death zone

Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull.

Mark Kenny   Tony Abbott's beleaguered leadership has entered the phase where even baseless rumours tend to have a locomotive force. 

Lack of explanation only adds to confusion

data retention

David Wroe   The government knows data retention was never going to be a vote winner. Labor, meanwhile, is scared of being painted as soft on national security.

What would Turnbull do if he was the PM?

Mark Kenny

Mark Kenny   The parallels between the Coalition’s woes and Labor are uncanny.

Blood-letting politicians blinded by ideology

Leave politics aside and focus on the truth about Medicare.

Henry Pinskier   Medicare's slow bleed is entirely preventable, because its general health continues to be excellent.

Comments 5

Political bully boys can't handle smart women

Clementine Ford dinkus Dinkus

Clementine Ford   Sexism in parliament is standard behaviour in a society that fiercely upholds its right to reserve positions of power for men.

What's in a name when it's Daesh?

Prime Minister Tony Abbott makes his National Security statement in Canberra on Monday.

Maher Mughrabi   If arguments over its name are the measure of a movement's power, then IS has achieved a worrying pre-eminence.

Special features

Triggs affair puts careers on the line

Deborah Snow, Sarah Whyte Even by the often robust standards of Senate estimates hearings, Tuesday's proceedings were a stormy affair.

PM loses party's trust and maybe NSW election

The Liberals want to get rid of Tony Abbott but no one is yet willing to risk the taint of blood on their hands.

Is this Abbott's end?

Michael Gordon If the government ends up embarrassed, or worse, over its treatment of Gillian Triggs, it can't say it wasn't warned.

Bishop nods off during Abbott's speech

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop's hectic travel schedule appears to have caught up with - right in the middle of a speech by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Abbott's leadership enters the death zone

Mark Kenny Tony Abbott's beleaguered leadership has entered the phase where even baseless rumours tend to have a locomotive force. Such are shadowy dynamics of leadership contests.

Buy your own anti-Abbott billboard

For a flat $3500, you can nail your political colours – and PM Tony Abbott's face – to the wall.

Tony Abbott's big distractions

Rocco Fazzari So here is our animated musical parody journey through Tony Abbott's week

Political bully boys can't handle smart women

Clementine Ford Sexism in parliament is standard behaviour in a society that fiercely upholds its right to reserve positions of power for men.

Politics live from Parliament

Stephanie Peatling Hello there. The Prime Minister has given us plenty to think about - let's listen in.

Triggs set on a course of self-martyrdom

In response to numerous missteps Gillian Triggs has set on a course of self-martyrdom. This itself is incendiary to the impartiality of the Human Rights Commission.

Julie Bishop: an emoji for all occasions

Tony Wright Julie Bishop may be on to something revolutionary. Given the current level of Australian political discourse, why not dispense with the spoken word and replace it with the living emoji?

PM clutching at straws to protect support base

Peter Hartcher Tony Abbott is too preoccupied with protecting his own position to notice that Malcolm Turnbull has assumed the "sensible centre" of Australian politics.

Attacks on Triggs part of a disturbing trend

Hugh de Kretser The federal government is actively undermining a range of vital checks and balances and stifling criticism of its actions. This is corrosive for democracy and human rights.

New welfare blueprint explained

There's a new push to reform welfare payments - report author Patrick McClure explains his recommendations.

Overblown attack rebounds on Brandis

Michael Gordon The understatement came from Senator George Brandis. "I can't unscramble the egg," the Attorney-General conceded.

Thermomix tender triggers confusion

It's the fancy pants kitchen appliance on every wedding registry and foodie wish list around the country. 

Abbott transforms to Mr Whippy...and goes for the whip, vigorously

Tony Wright Amid the confusing clamour that is federal politics, Prime Minister Tony Abbott appears to have misheard his radio mate Alan Jones' Tuesday morning advice to become more like Mr Whippy and ring his bell louder.