Tony Abbott: Coalition in danger of becoming ‘Labor lite’

FORMER Prime Minister Tony Abbott has penned a highly critical analysis of the Turnbull Government, highlighting voter "despair" and concerns "the Coalition has become Labor lite."

In a stark manifesto, the leader of the Liberal Party's Right said the next election was winnable and outlined his own plan that would take the Coalition to victory, from "scaled back immigration", to scrapping the Human Rights Commission and ending the pandering to climate change theology.

Mr Abbott also acknowledged the disappointment in his own Government and said he could understand why support was surging for One Nation.

Speaking at the launch of a book of essays on 'Making Australia Right' edited by author Jim Allan, Mr Abbott opened with the remark that "many of the people who normally support Coalition governments aren't happy."

"A sense of disappointment and disillusionment pervades these essays: disappointment with the Abbott government and perhaps even despair about the Turnbull government," he said.

"These criticisms aren't always fair. Still, unless we heed the message from people who think that we have let them down, a book like this can become the thinking persons' justification for voting One Nation."
 

Effectively describing the Turnbull Government as a "bad situation", Mr Abbott said work needs to be done "fast" to win back voters deserting the Coalition.

"It wont be easy but it must be possible or our country is doomed to a Shorten Government that will make a bad situation immeasurably worse," he said.

"In or out of government, political parties need a purpose. Our politics can't be just a contest of toxic egos or someone's vanity project."

Mr Abbott said nearly 40 per cent of Australians "couldn't bring themselves to vote" for either the Coalition or Labor at the last election and "it's easy enough to see why."

He pointed out 24 per cent of Australians voted for minor parties and independents at last year's election with five per cent spoiling their ballot papers and 9 per cent didn't turn up to vote.

Suggesting policy changes, Mr Abbott declared: "The next election is winnable."

Controversially, he suggested the Government "scrap" the Human Rights Commission and refuse to be an ATM for the states, to allow micro-economic reform in schools and hospitals.

"If we stop pandering to climate change theology and freeze the RET, we can take the pressure off power prices," he said.

"If we end the big is best' thinking of the federal Treasury, and scaled back immigration (at least until housing starts and infrastructure have caught up), we can take the pressure off home prices.

"If we take the rhetoric about budget repair seriously and avoid all new spending and cut out all frivolous spending, we will start to get the deficit down."

Reflecting on his own difficulties with "senate sabotage", Mr Abbott said his former Treasurer Joe Hockey was criticised for his failure to 'sell' the 2014 budget when the problem was "less the salesman than the system."

He said the senate gridlock "can't go on", recommending former Prime Minister John Howard's proposal to change section 57 of the constitution to allow legislation that's been rejected twice in the senate three months apart to go to a joint sitting without the need for a double dissolution election.

"The government should consider taking this reform to the people simultaneously with the next election. Let's make the next election about government versus gridlock," he said.

Listing the factors driving voter dissatisfaction, Mr Abbott said Australia had some of the world's highest energy prices, labour costs, regulatory burdens, house prices close to Hong Kong's and an education standards worse than Kazakhstan.

He admitted there were challenges with the Opposition, a "populist Senate" that made governing almost impossible, a "media that often mistakes insider gossip for serious journalism" and a public that demands to "enjoy things today but to put off paying for them."

"Still, the government's job is to face up to these challenges and to overcome them," he said.

Speaking about what a "sensible centre-right" Government should be doing, Mr Abbott said the party needed a conservative version of the left's 'long march through the institutions.'

"We do need to make it respectable again to be liberal on economic questions and conservative on social ones," he said.

Criticising Turnbull Government policy, Mr Abbott said he was in favour of renewables, provided they were economic and did not jeopardise security of supply.

He suggested a new approach to energy policy, drawing on an essay in the book on the subject that "exposes the disastrous muddle successive governments have created."

 

"We are sleepwalking towards what the head of BlueScope said this week was an energy policy 'catastrophe'," he said.

"But it's not Labor's even more disastrous 50 per cent renewable target that's caused the problem - it's the existing renewable target which the government has no plans to change."

He said under the Government's plans, the wind generation would double in the next three years, costing consumers $10 billion.

"We subsidise wind to make coal uneconomic so now we are proposing to subside coal to keep the lights on. Go figure. Wouldn't' it be better to abolish subsidies for new renewable generation and let ordinary market forces do the rest?

"Of course that would trigger the mother-of-all-brawls in the senate, but what better way to let voters know that the Coalition wants your power bill down, while Labor wants it up?

Mr Abbott said the likelihood of defeat in the senate "never stopped the Howard government trying to change the unfair dismissal laws."

"Over forty times we tried and failed and each attempt meant that we burnished our small business credentials and Labor damaged theirs," he said.

       

 

"We are sleepwalking towards what the head of BlueScope said this week was an energy policy 'catastrophe'," he said.

"But it's not Labor's even more disastrous 50 per cent renewable target that's caused the problem - it's the existing renewable target which the government has no plans to change."

He said under the Government's plans, the wind generation would double in the next three years, costing consumers $10 billion.

"We subsidise wind to make coal uneconomic so now we are proposing to subside coal to keep the lights on. Go figure. Wouldn't' it be better to abolish subsidies for new renewable generation and let ordinary market forces do the rest?

"Of course that would trigger the mother-of-all-brawls in the senate, but what better way to let voters know that the Coalition wants your power bill down, while Labor wants it up?

Mr Abbott said the likelihood of defeat in the senate "never stopped the Howard government trying to change the unfair dismissal laws."

"Over forty times we tried and failed and each attempt meant that we burnished our small business credentials and Labor damaged theirs," he said.

News Corp Australia


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