JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Sit tight: Abbott moves to calm nervous Coalition MPs

Date

Australian Financial Review chief political correspondent

View more articles from Phillip Coorey

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

The surplus, the tax and the leaders.

Tony Abbott switches his question time attack to the surplus, but doesn't leave the carbon tax behind.

PT0M0S 620 349

Tony Abbott has moved to calm nerves in the Coalition by telling the party it cannot expect to ride high in the polls for the entirety of the Parliament.

Mr Abbott also sought to quell a brawl between South Australian and East Coast MPs over water, by appointing his two respective shadow ministers, Barnaby Joyce, from Queensland, and Simon Birmingham from Adelaide, to nut out a compromise position on the Murray-Darling Basin.

The government is expected to introduce a bill tomorrow allocating extra water to be sent down the river and the Coalition is split.

Urged to change tack ... Tony Abbott.

Urged to change tack ... Tony Abbott. Photo: Andrew Meares

With MPs worried about the narrowing polls and Mr Abbott’s strategy,  sources said the Opposition Leader told the party room this morning the Coalition was going through ‘‘slightly more difficult times’’ but it would be unrealistic to expect it to ride high in the polls for an entire three years.

He stressed that, as a team, the Coalition needed to finish the year strong to ensure a strong start into next year, an election year.

His address to the joint party room comes after it emerged Liberal MPs are privately urging Mr Abbott to change tack after another opinion poll put Labor within striking distance of the Coalition.

As Kevin Rudd continued to agitate yesterday by accusing Julia Gillard of dishonesty, Liberal MPs were more concerned with the latest Newspoll, which, for the second time in six weeks, showed Labor and the Coalition tied at 50 per cent on the two-party-preferred vote.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, several Liberal MPs told Fairfax Labor's recovery was now clearly a trend and Mr Abbott needed to broaden his approach beyond attacking the carbon tax.

There was no hint of any leadership talk but one MP said ''we will be watching the next few polls very closely''.

The government, beset by its own internal strife, seized on the poll result to claim Mr Abbott ''has run out of puff''.

But Mr Abbott defended his strategy yesterday.

''The next election is going to be a referendum on the carbon tax and the next election is going to be a referendum on prime ministers who say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards.''

There was disappointment in the Coalition when it began its question time attack on the carbon tax yesterday, leaving until the very end questions to Ms Gillard about her promise to deliver a budget surplus this financial year. After the release of the midyear budget update last week, the government began preparing the ground to abandon that promise.

Ms Gillard would no longer guarantee a surplus when asked, saying instead there was a ''plan'' and a ''determination'' to return to surplus.

The poll, in which Labor's primary vote climbed to 36 per cent, has also ended any hope among Mr Rudd's supporters of a leadership change before Christmas.

Yesterday, Mr Rudd hit out at Ms Gillard and her supporters, saying Labor would never move on from the leadership coup until everybody was ''honest about what happened'' at the time he was ousted. Mr Rudd also pointed out he noted ''a couple of months ago that Mr Abbott was entirely beatable''.

''A couple of months later, it seems that more people now agree with me on that prospect,'' he said.

He said Mr Abbott was languishing because he was not engaging on policy but ''simply absorbed in the politics of personal abuse''.

Follow the National Times on Twitter

 

501 comments

  • There's plenty of issues to belt Labor about, especially the budget, the mining-non-tax, asylum seekers and the NBN. Two words incite fear - Swan and surplus.

    Looks like the whole GFC response and the credit Swan claimed might have all been a furphy too, as recent reports indicate. The contribution to consumption was negligible.

    Commenter
    Hacka
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    October 30, 2012, 7:34AM
    • yeah, the mining-non-tax that's going to break the back of the resources industry ... that'll work a treat.

      Commenter
      squeals
      Date and time
      October 30, 2012, 8:10AM
    • Beats me, too. Likewise, the wealth and business interests that Turnbull has, why does he want to be in politics? I can only assume massively inflated egos in both cases.

      Commenter
      The Genuine Article
      Date and time
      October 30, 2012, 8:38AM
    • Hacka
      The problem is that Abbott, Hockey and Pyne only have one card in their deck. If the Liberal Party had a decent leader.......

      Commenter
      Steve
      Date and time
      October 30, 2012, 8:13AM
    • The biggest furphy is that any liberals ever talk to phil,that is why he can never name one.

      Commenter
      boof
      Location
      east melbourne
      Date and time
      October 30, 2012, 8:18AM
    • Straight out of the song book hacka !
      Firstly use the primary weapon in the national/liberal arsenal,first used and perfected by pig iron bob,brought to an art for by non-core howard, and that is, namely, fear.
      Then go on to some unfounded and nebulous assertions.
      There.
      All one needs for a rant in these merde-ochian days where political discussion does not involve issues of substance.
      And all that before 8 am !

      Commenter
      nkelly
      Date and time
      October 30, 2012, 8:22AM
    • Hacka
      Abbott's biggest strategic mistake was believing he could force an early election and become PM before his character failings became known and documented!

      Commenter
      rext
      Date and time
      October 30, 2012, 8:23AM
    • Geez phil there was a much more reliable poll out yesterday which showed the libs well in front surely after the nt and act elections you must realise certain polling techniques overstate the labor vote.

      Commenter
      brinkin
      Location
      darwin
      Date and time
      October 30, 2012, 8:25AM
    • So you think the ALP can be belted for actually investing in infrastructure, implementing a profits based resource tax on mining companies that pay as little as 3 cents in the dollar in tax after all rebates are taken into account, and the budget. Well lets look at the coalitions last 10 years. Rode the wave of the resources boom and spent nothing on infrastructure while it was falling down around them, presided over the longest recorded trade deficit in the history of Australia, introduced such great mining company incentives as the diesel fuel rebate and the minerals exploration grants scheme to the tune of billions of dollars, balanced the budget by selling $100 billion dollars worth of government owned buildings and increased the actual cost of running government through private rents to the BCA and others. And my problem is I've never voted ALP yet when I read the drivel from the likes of you I feel like becoming a life member.

      Commenter
      John Michaels
      Date and time
      October 30, 2012, 8:26AM
    • The Liberals must endorse Malcolm Turnbull as leader again to have any chance of winning the next federal election.

      Commenter
      ajasyd
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      October 30, 2012, 8:26AM

More comments

Comments are now closed

Related Coverage

Featured advertisers

Special offers

Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo