The Courier-Mail

BOLT: Alive-and-kick­ing Ab­bott’s elec­tion mas­ter­stroke

The Prime Min­is­ter’s crit­ics should have learnt not to write him off by now,

- Writes An­drew Bolt LGBT Rights · Politics · Elections · LGBT · Society · Coalition · Partido Laborista Australiano · Malcolm Turnbull · Twitter · Bill Shorten · Bronwyn Bishop · Tony Abbott · Joe Hockey

TONY Ab­bott’s vic­tory in the same-sex mar­riage de­bate is a w warn­ing to his crit­ics. He’s not dead yet. Far from it.

For­get the bad polls. This chron­i­cally un­der­es­ti­mated Prime Min­is­ter has just nailed in place another crit­i­cal part of his elec­tion strat­egy – one he is con­vinced will work.

In do­ing so, Ab­bott also showed he’s much more in touch with his MPs than are his big­gest ri­vals. There will be no chal­lenge any time soon.

Ab­bott on Tues­day let more than 90 Coali­tion MPs speak dur­ing a marathon de­bate.

Two-thirds backed him in re­sist­ing calls by La­bor and the media class to break an elec­tion prom­ise and let his MPs have a con­science vote on same­sex mar­riage.

Ri­val Mal­colm Turnbull, though, was in the mi­nor­ity, de­mand­ing a free vote that would have ripped apart the party.

But Ab­bott didn’t “kill” gay mar­riage, as one hys­ter­i­cally an­gry Fair­fax news­pa­per screeched in a front-page head- line. In fact, he gave same-sex mar­riage cam­paign­ers their great­est chance of vic­tory by of­fer­ing them a plebiscite or ref­er­en­dum af­ter the next elec­tion to let the public, not politi­cians, de­cide. They should thank Ab­bott.

TONY Ab­bott’s vic­tory in the same-sex mar­riage de­bate on Tues­day is a warn­ing to his crit­ics. He’s not dead yet. Far from it.

For­get the bad polls. This chron­i­cally un­der­es­ti­mated Prime Min­is­ter has just nailed in place another crit­i­cal part of his elec­tion strat­egy – one he is con­vinced will work.

In do­ing so, Ab­bott also showed he’s much more in touch with his MPs than are his big­gest ri­vals. There will be no chal­lenge any­time soon.

Ab­bott on Tues­day let more than 90 Coali­tion MPs speak dur­ing a marathon de­bate. Two-thirds backed him in re­sist­ing calls by La­bor and the media class to break an elec­tion prom­ise and let his MPs have a con­science vote on same-sex mar­riage.

Ri­val Mal­colm Turnbull, though, was in the mi­nor­ity, de­mand­ing a free vote that would have ripped apart the party.

But Ab­bott didn’t “kill” gay mar­riage, as the hys­ter­i­cally an­gry The Age news­pa­per screeched in a front-page head­line.

In fact, he gave same-sex mar­riage cam­paign­ers their great­est chance of vic­tory by of­fer­ing them a plebiscite or ref­er­en­dum af­ter the next elec­tion to let the public, not politi­cians, de­cide. They should thank Ab­bott. A con­science vote in Par­lia­ment would likely have failed. But Ab­bott’s plebiscite should back same-sex mar­riage, if ac­tivists are right in claim­ing over­whelm­ing public sup­port.

That makes the dif­fer­ence be­tween La­bor and the Lib­er­als on same-sex mar­riage just an ar­gu­ment over process: should this be de­cided by politi­cians or the public?

This means Ab­bott has cleared the way for an elec­tion de­bate more on La­bor’s crip­pling weak­nesses and not

(AB­BOTT) GAVE SAME-SEX MAR­RIAGE CAM­PAIGN­ERS THEIR GREAT­EST CHANCE

OF VIC­TORY BY OF­FER­ING THEM A

PLEBISCITE OR REF­ER­EN­DUM AF­TER THE NEXT ELEC­TION

its Twit­ter-bait is­sues of iden­tity pol­i­tics and global warm­ing.

That is even more cer­tain af­ter Ab­bott this week also agreed to po­lit­i­cally cred­i­ble tar­gets for cut­ting emis­sions – at least 26 per cent of 2005 lev­els by 2030 – at an even­tual cost to the econ­omy of be­tween $3 bil­lion and $4 bil­lion a year.

You think that’s too high a price? Well, look at La­bor’s al­ter­na­tive: a wild tar­get of 50 per cent re­new­able energy by 2050 so hideously ex­pen­sive that La­bor does not even dare spec­u­late on the cost. Ab­bott can­not wait to de­bate Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten on that mad­ness.

True, even some con­ser­va­tives will say I’m in de­nial of grim re­al­ity – Ab­bott’s lead­er­ship is in strife.

And, yes, Ab­bott is al­ready on his last chance af­ter sur­viv­ing a lead­er­ship spill in Fe­bru­ary called by col­leagues sick of his tin ear, re­mote­ness and blun­der­ous po­lit­i­cal judg­ment.

Ab­bott did learn and change, get­ting the Lib­er­als al­most even with La­bor in the polls, but then came more dis­trac­tions over same-sex mar­riage, fol­lowed by the scan­dal over for­mer Speaker Bron­wyn Bishop’s out­ra­geous ex­penses.

The Gov­ern­ment’s poll fig­ures slumped again to about 47 to 53 be­hind La­bor, and Ab­bott is again un­der at­tack over his judg­ment – not least in de­fend­ing Bishop for too long.

Once again, old prob­lems are talked about. Trea­surer Joe Hockey keeps drift­ing out of de­bates the Gov­ern­ment badly needs to win, and Turnbull, the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter, of­fers the media free crit­i­cism of Ab­bott’s po­si­tions, yesterday dis­own­ing Ab­bott’s pro­posed plebiscite.

More omi­nously for Ab­bott, old media al­lies have gone bol­shie. The Aus­tralian, one of the few news­pa­pers not of the Left, is wag­ing a cam­paign against his chief of staff, Peta Credlin, and now seems to be cool­ing on Ab­bott him­self.

On 2GB, in­flu­en­tial host Alan Jones is at­tack­ing the Gov­ern­ment over coal min­ing.

Yet, Ab­bott and his strate­gists re­main con­fi­dent. They claim La­bor’s high vote comes largely in its safe seats and not in the crit­i­cal marginals where Ab­bott is cam­paign­ing hard.

They say the Gov­ern­ment is de­vel­op­ing a strong story on jobs – free-trade agree­ments, the navy frigates con­tracts for Ade­laide, a de­vel­op­ment strat­egy for the north and more to come.

It also has a story on Bud­get man­age­ment – tighter spend­ing with none of the spend­ing dis­as­ters La­bor com­mit­ted in of­fice.

And they have rich lines of at­tack on La­bor – its plan for a kind of car­bon tax, its weak­ness on boats and its prom­ises of bil­lions of dol­lars of more spend­ing when we’re still drown­ing in its last debt.

More­over, Shorten is dogged by his ad­mis­sion this year of hav­ing lied to the media, and, worse, by his past union scan­dals, with more ev­i­dence still to come in the royal com­mis­sion into union cor­rup­tion.

But against the Lib­er­als’ spin are two deadly facts – an un­em­ploy­ment rate of 6.3 per cent and a Bud­get still so bro­ken that we’re spend­ing $96 mil­lion a day more than we earn.

Yet those claim­ing it’s as good as fin­ished al­ready should ask: how many times al­ready have they writ­ten off Tony Ab­bott?

 ??  ?? STAND­ING TALL: Tony Ab­bott yes­terda
STAND­ING TALL: Tony Ab­bott yes­terda
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 ??  ?? ay af­ter an­nounc­ing same-sex mar­riage will be put to a public vote af­ter the next elec­tion.
ay af­ter an­nounc­ing same-sex mar­riage will be put to a public vote af­ter the next elec­tion.
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