Despite former Tony Abbott’s Festival of Snipe, in which the feather duster did his best to tarnish his replacement as a “no change” PM, it became clear this week that Malcolm Turnbull is planning a radical overhaul of Abbott-era policies.
Liberal Party federal director Brian Loughnane indeed had polling predicting a 57-43 split in Canning the weekend before Mr Abbott lost the Liberal leadership.
Mr Abbott said he understood the move, “given the realities of the senate”. Of course, the grieving Abbott probably harbours such hopes, because leaders invariably do. He was quickly, and rather easily, talked around when appeals from supporters touched his ambitious heart.
There will now be no change on fees until the 2017 academic year at the earliest, after the next election.
TONY ABBOTT: A couple of people have knocked on my door and they’ve said “Tony, I want to, in a sense, say sorry for doing what I thought we had to do”, but I’ve had some interesting texts from colleagues explaining that, while it was a very good government doing a lot of very good things, the personal vitriol was such that they thought change was unavoidable. Don’t believe it is that simple.
Asked on Thursday in an interview with radio station 3AW about his decision, Mr Abbott said: “Obviously it was an injudicious appointment”. “Well, there are concerns about language and there are concerns about working directly with those communities I think it’s important that we engage directly with them and that if we are looking at programs and initiatives to address the issue with our young people who are at risk it is important that we do so in partnership with those communities”.
It bears repeating: Turnbull had been “making weak compromises with a bad government”.
When asked about last month’s ousting, Mr Abbott failed to state whether he had forgiven Mr Turnbull and those instrumental to his downfall. You’ve got to stand for things.
While Hadley’s show after the interview was full of an outpouring of support and mourning for the loss of the conservative hero of the 2GB base, this is not Abbott’s swan song. Despite Abbott’s pledge to indulge in no sniping, the radio-hagiography, his first post-defeat broadcast appearance, contained several such barbs. Malcolm Turnbull says “everything is on the table” at his reform summit.
As for Turnbull, Abbott revealed he had never trusted his communications minister, and had always expected a tilt would come.
The government’s climate action agenda was pulled out of the cupboard and given a polish, with Environment Minister Greg Hunt reportedly setting up a new unit to bring together all climate change and clean energy programs from across the government.
Pressed on the politically disastrous 2014 budget, which contained a slew of broken promises – unquestionably the moment his leadership began to unravel – Abbott maintained it had been the right formula for the country but simply “too gutsy” for the Parliament.
This observation invites another: If Abbott remains in the Parliament, as now looks increasingly likely, he will not be there as “someone else’s minister”.