Abbott continues disruption as Government waits on High Court outcome – October 2017

Filed under: Politics, Australian Politics, Senate,

With Parliament scheduled to meet again on October 16, the Government waits anxiously for the High Court decisions on the dual nationality cases that could rob it of a majority in the House of Representatives.

The greatest anxiety is for the fate of deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.

If the court rules that he was not eligible to stand in the NSW seat of New England, we can expect a by-election before Christmas.

In the meantime, former prime minister Tony Abbott continues to deny the Coalition clear air in which it might try to rebuild credibility with the voters.

His latest disruption came in a speech delivered to fellow conservatives in London, including an observation that climate change might be doing more good than harm.

But the speech brought some sharp reactions back home.

Fairfax Media’s Mark Kenny reported: “A former Liberal leader has urged Malcolm Turnbull to defy Tony Abbott in the party room over climate and energy policy, saying that by ‘drawing a line in the sand’ he could deliver better policy and save his prime ministership.

“In a searing assessment of the Coalition’s chances of recovery, John Hewson told Fairfax Media that Mr Turnbull looked weak for failing to assert his past commitments on climate change, tax policy and marriage equality, and for refusing to call out Mr Abbott despite the growing absurdity of his arguments.

“Dr Hewson cited Mr Abbott’s claim this week that global warming could be good for the world saying the statement had laid bare the former prime minister’s role as a wrecker while further isolating him from mainstream Australian voters.

“He said Mr Abbott had adopted every position on climate change from ‘it being a significant issue to being crap’.

‘‘‘In those circumstances, I’d call him out,’’’ he said.

But he said while Mr Turnbull failed to implement a proper policy that drove new energy investment it would be Mr Abbott’s attention-grabbing statements from the conservative right that would define the government to voters.

‘‘‘It’s a bit ironic but they [voters] elect governments to take the hard decisions and when you don’t take them you look really weak,’’’ he said.

Dr Hewson may have thought his comments would help the Prime Minister; in fact they could do the opposite by emphasising weakness.

Kenny also reported, “But a senior minister defended the Prime Minister’s restrained handling of the Abbott-led climate insurgency, saying the policy, which is expected to go before cabinet within days or weeks, would aim to deliver reliability, affordability and to achieve emissions reductions consistent with Australia’s Paris commitment as a by-product.”

Fairfax Media also reported, “Political allies and friends of the former leader went to ground on Tuesday following the incendiary speech to the sceptic Global Warming Policy Forum, which is the latest in a series of dramatic interventions from Mr Abbott into the energy debate.”

Defence Science Minister Christopher Pyne said that Mr Turnbull was better off ignoring Mr Abbott’s comments. “He's entitled to his views. He can argue his views in the court of public opinion,” he told ABC radio.

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