Man of the people who could be Rudd’s worst nightmare
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
NEW Opposition Leader Tony Abbott offers Australian voters their first real political choice since the 2007 election.
No one can be in any doubt on where he stands on most issues affecting the nation. His unpredicted election to the Liberal Party and Opposition leadership offers the weakened Opposition forces their best opportunity to reposition themselves since the 2007 election.
The first round of party room polling which gave Abbott 35, Malcolm Turnbull 26 and Joe Hockey 23 votes demonstrated that the Liberals wanted a leader of conviction.
That ruled out Hockey who had destroyed himself with his wishy-washy call for a free vote on the ETS issue.
The all-important leadership vote gave Abbott 42 to Turnbull’s 41 and showed the intense concern within the party room over the choice of a leader who appeared to be lending support to the Rudd Government’s ETS bill, albeit with hard-negotiated amendments, and a candidate who wanted the public to know more about what was involved in the implementation of the most drastic new taxing policy in recent memory.
Turnbull is retreating to the backbenches, possibly to plot.
Hockey will need massaging but will probably remain in the new team.
The Senate will now either refer the ETS bill to a committee or call for a vote, which is likely to be defeated. There now appears little stomach for floor-crossing by Liberals.
Some in the media will attempt to peddle the view that Abbott is a fundamentalist religious fanatic but those who believe in a fair go will discover that the father-of-three is a plain-speaking suburban dad who puts his firm belief in community service into practice through his local surf lifesaving club and volunteer bushfire fighting brigade.
In both, he enjoys the friendship and respect of his mates, some of whom go back to his school days. He is probably closer to being a man of the people than any former Rhodes Scholar and Oxford Blue can be and as such stands a better chance of restoring unity to the divided Liberal Party, just as he rapidly repaired the fractured relationship with Coalition partners the Nationals.
Without doubt, Abbott is the man Labor did not want to lead the Opposition.
Its spin machine is predictably working to paint him and his supporters as extremists, the usual response from a party notorious for running scandalous fear-and-smear campaigns against its opponents and those of its own members who refuse to toe the party line.