SEPTEMBER 12 2016 – 8:39AM
Former prime minister Tony Abbott is maintaining his high-vis presence in national media, using morning television to cement expectations of “a term of delivery” for the Turnbull government.
Two days shy of the anniversary of his ousting as prime minister, Mr Abbott said “a lot of good things have happened over the last year”, but declined to directly answer whether Malcolm Turnbull had been a “good prime minister”.
“There was a good two years followed by a good 12 months, an election win, and now we have got three years to get on with governing,” he told Channel Nine’s Today program as politicians returned to Canberra on Monday.
“As Prime Minister Turnbull says, this is going to be a term of delivery,” he continued, in what could be seen as an ultimatum to his flailing successor.
Like his former chief of staff Peta Credlin last week, Mr Abbott identified the Coalition’s narrow election win as Mr Turnbull’s main achievement since taking the leadership – though he also said the government had “done well” in the key domain of economic management.
“It was always going to be tough to win the election. We did win the election. That’s a credit to the prime minister,” Mr Abbott said. “He’s now prime minister in his own right. And this, as Malcolm Turnbull keeps saying, is to be a term of delivery.”
He declined to reflect on how he personally felt a year on from being dumped as PM, insisting “it’s not about me” and arguing the best thing to do was to “get behind the Turnbull government and … help a good government to succeed”.
The Turnbull government has been criticised as a weakened and dithering administration, having floated and sunk several tax reform initiatives while presenting a limited post-election agenda.
Mr Abbott emphasised the election had given the government a mandate to reintroduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission and tighter union governance controls – both Abbott-era priorities that had stalled in the Senate.
Monday’s television appearance, ostensibly to promote next year’s Pollie Pedal charity bike ride, followed a media blitz by the former PMlast week while Mr Turnbull was overseas at a series of global summits. He presented a prescription for reform of political donations, said the government had established the Northern Territory royal commission “in panic” and publicised his annual visit to remote Indigenous communities.
Also on Monday, Ms Credlin published a stinging column in The Australian in which she labelled the prime minister “a bitter disappointment” who had lost the Coalition its moral authority.
“Once so loved in the seats that don’t determine elections, he’s now reviled in those that do,” she wrote.
Ms Credlin was highly critical of Mr Turnbull’s media strategy, calling it Sydney-centric and neglectful of the Coalition’s base.
The government will attempt to get some runs on the board this week as it proceeds with its “omnibus” budget savings bill and plans for a plebiscite on same-sex marriage.
Source : The Canberra Times