December 19, 2015 – 4:17AM
Chief political correspondent
Former prime minister Tony Abbott should quit Parliament at the next election to make way for new talent according to a majority of electors within his own safe Liberal seat of Warringah.
With Liberal MPs and supporters reading the signs of growing disunity within the Turnbull government as Mr Abbott and other malcontents continue to speak out, exclusive ReachTel polling conducted for the Australian Institute, has found most voters in the 65 per cent Liberal electorate believe the ex-PM’s time has passed.
The survey has also laid bare the scale of the political challenge for Mr Abbott’s replacement as prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, in the crucial area of tax reform. Just 16.6 per cent of respondents are “strongly in favour” of a GST hike – which would fund income tax cuts – and less than 40 per cent overall are in favour, compared to 46.5 per cent who opposes a GST increase. Just over 14 per cent remain undecided.
Voters polled on Tony Abbott want the former prime minister to go. Photo: Andrew Meares
Another finding has challenged the accepted wisdom that conservative voters are unfazed by climate change, revealing that even in blue-ribbon Warringah three quarters of electors believe the country should be moving gradually towards the goal of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
In July this year, Labor leader Bill Shorten released a policy of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 prompting derision from the government, which said the 50 per cent target was impractical and potentially ruinous to the economy.
The Thursday night survey of 743 residents in Mr Abbott’s well-to-do North Shore electorate, found just over half of those polled believe their longstanding local member should fold his tent at the next election and make way for another Liberal candidate.
Mr Abbott has not said whether he will quit Parliament in the 2016 election. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
It put support for Mr Abbott’s retirement at 50.9 per cent, with 36.7 per cent of voters saying it would make them more likely to vote Liberal in 2016. Another 45.8 percent, however, said it would not affect their decision.
“The polling indicates that the electorate is quickly moving on from the Tony Abbott era,” said Australia Institute executive director, Ben Oquist, who commissioned the independent polling.
The poll is a morale blow to the famously punchy Mr Abbott who was unceremoniously dumped by colleagues in September after a series of broken promises, unproductive political fights, and an unwillingness to address structural problems identified by those colleagues including an ineffective treasurer and a dysfunctional prime ministerial office.
Illustration: Ron Tandberg
Mr Abbott has not said whether he will remain in parliament beyond the next election, but has been urged by a small cabal of conservative backers to pursue a come-back to the leadership.
Interestingly, the poll also found that 77.2 per cent of voters want Australia to move to 100 per cent renewable energy.
Mr Oquist said the public was ahead of the rhetoric from all political parties “when it comes to renewable energy”.
The survey comes as the cracks widen in the coalition facade especially over the nature of Islam as a religion, and its violent manifestations.
Mr Abbott recently called for government and community leaders to openly acknowledge the “massive” problem at the heart of Islam, and to assert the superiority of Western social and democratic values.
While Mr Turnbull has dismissed such suggestions, choosing to stress instead the need for maximum inclusiveness, some right-wing Liberals have complained of being leaned on to use more temperate language regarding Muslims, by the head of ASIO, Duncan Lewis.
However it has been revealed that the claim was wrong, in that only two MPs were contacted and neither had felt intimidated nor inappropriately pressured.
Source : Canberra Times