POLITICS

Tony Abbott Warns The Government Could 'Drift To Defeat'

The former prime minister said that conservatives saw the Turnbull Government as "Labor lite".

24/02/2017 8:25 AM AEDT | Updated 24/02/2017 8:49 AM AEDT
Getty Images
Tony Abbott has said the government could "drift to defeat."

Former prime minister Tony Abbott unleashed on the Turnbull Government on Thursday night, saying that it was risking defeat and "easy to see why" the major parties lost votes in last year's election.

"Many of the people who normally support the Coalition governments aren't happy," he said.

He also noted that nearly 40 percent of Australians in the last election "couldn't bring themselves to vote for either of the two parties that have governed us for 100 years."

Speaking at a book launch in Sydney, Abbott set out his ideas on how the Coalition can win back voters who may be thinking of defecting to Pauline Hanson's One Nation, recommending a freeze on the renewable energy target, abolition of the human rights commission, stopping all new government spending and the cutting of immigration.

The Liberal backbencher also urged a reform to the Senate to make it easier for the government to pass legislation.

"In short, why not say to the people of Australia: we'll cut the RET to help with your power bills; we'll cut immigration to make housing more affordable; we'll scrap the Human Rights Commission to stop official bullying; we'll stop all new spending to end ripping off our grandkids; and we'll reform the Senate to have government, not gridlock?" he said.

"Our challenge is to be worth voting for. It's to win back the people who are giving up on us."

In a later interview with Sky News commentator Andrew Bolt, Abbott warned that Australia risked "sleepwalking into an energy catastrophe if we don't do better than this."

He also remained silent when Bolt commented that cabinet minister Peter Dutton describes himself as "conservative, plain-speaking and loyal," adding that Julie Bishop is "none of those three."

Addressing reporters in London on Thursday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop rejected the claims that the government was heading towards defeat, adding that she had not seen his "so-called manifesto" to make the next election winnable for the Coalition.

"I don't accept that characterisation at all. I believe that the Turnbull Government has been pursuing policies that are in the interests of the Australian people," she said.

"We are pursuing policies that we believe will grow our economy, that will create more jobs."

After Fairfax Media put to Bishop Abbott's failure to defend her after Bolt's comments, she hit back.

"I think I'm pretty plain speaking but others can judge that," she said.

"I have been elected by the party as the deputy leader I have been elected directly by the party room and I owe my loyalty to the party room and I continue to be elected and that's the way it is so I'm not sure what other matters anyone could be referring to."

Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne, hit back at Abbott in his regular Friday morning appearance on Nine's Today, saying that his policy proposals would either be a disaster or had failed the first time around.

"We won't be slashing spending, Tony Abbott tried that in 2014 in the budget during his leadership but of course a whole lot of zombie legislation sat in the Senate unable to be passed," he said.

"We won't be going down the track of putting a freeze on immigration for example, which Tony Abbott wants to do, because it would be catastrophic in places like the Northern Territory, Tasmania -- most places outside the major cities."

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said that the current government was suffering from a policy vacuum.

"The government doesn't have an agenda," he said while appearing on Today.

"Tony Abbott's solution is to say 'take what I did in the 2014 budget and go more extreme, go harder.

"Tony Abbott is delusional and the government is dysfunctional."

During his appearance on Sky News, Abbott also used the opportunity to call on Malcolm Turnbull to move into Kirribilli House, saying that it would be a "better look".

"I can certainly understand the prime minister not wanting to be a burden on the taxpayer by living in his own home," he said.

"I think it would be a better look if the prime minister did live in Kirribilli House, and I think it would be better for the government.

"In the end this is a question for him, but yes, by trying to avoid being a burden to the taxpayer, in the end, you end up costing the taxpayer more."



ALSO ON HUFFPOST AUSTRALIA

More On This Topic