Revolution in Oz

TONY Abbott will steer the Liberal Party back to its conservative roots with a 2010 election campaign portraying Kevin Rudd as a Whitlamesque big spender whose climate change policies will smash Australian jobs.

The new Opposition Leader’s first act after ousting Malcolm Turnbull in a partyroom vote yesterday was to scrap his party’s support for Labor’s carbon emissions trading scheme, which he dismissed as “a great big tax”.

And Mr Abbott immediately moved to repair the Liberals’ shattered relations with the Nationals, embracing their contempt for the ETS after months of Mr Turnbull dismissing their views as irrelevant.

As Senate leader Barnaby Joyce rejoiced in a return of Coalition unity and pledged to pick apart Labor’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme “piece by piece”, the Labor Party released an advertisement warning that an Abbott government would take the nation backwards on climate change and industrial relations. …

Sources said party research showed battlers were angry that Mr Rudd had not only failed to cut financial pressures, but was proposing to add to the burden with his CPRS. …

Earlier yesterday, Mr Abbott buried the Turnbull era with a promise of a tough election contest in which the Coalition would provide “an alternative, not an echo . . . a choice, not a copy”.

As leader I am not frightened of an election,” Mr Abbott said after his victory. “I am not afraid of an election on this (ETS) issue.

This is a $120 billion tax on the Australian public, and that is just for starters.” he said.

“We can’t just wave that through the parliament. As an opposition, our job is to hold the government seriously to account.” …

Mr Abbott immediately called a secret ballot on whether the Liberals should seek to refer the CPRS to a Senate committee or, failing that, reject it in the Senate.

The MPs and senators accepted the committee proposal by a margin of 54 votes to 29 in an emphatic rejection of the previous Turnbull position.

An hour later Mr Abbott arrived to address reporters to the applause of a group of Liberal colleagues — many representing rural and regional seats.

Promising a more consultative leadership style and a concerted effort to “heal the wounds” of the climate change war, Mr Abbott made it clear he did not plan wholesale changes to the front bench.

Mr Abbott said the CPRS was “really an energy taxation scheme”. He said he took climate change seriously and would go to the election with a climate change policy. “It just won’t be this ETS,” he said.

The new leader said millions of Australians saw the CPRS as a tax that would raise a massive Labor slush fund and that “a gargantuan majority” did not understand the implications of emissions trading. …

“If you don’t understand it, don’t vote for it and if you do understand it you’d never vote for it”, Mr Abbott said. …

Within minutes of Mr Abbott’s election, Senator Joyce told the Senate the Coalition was now united and ready to take on Labor.

Addressing his comments to Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, Senator Joyce said he was looking forward to campaigning among blue-collar workers in the construction, forestry and mining industries to explain Labor’s plans to destroy their jobs.

“We are going to drive this agenda and drive it persistently and without equivocation,” Senator Joyce said.

“We will fight this piece by piece. From now on we have the capacity to unify this show.”

After Mr Abbott’s victory, Mr Turnbull said he was disappointed but had no regrets about his advocacy of the CPRS.” “Abbott’s climate poll dare


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