Abbott backs protesters show of anger to PM
OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has backed the right of protesters to express their anger at Julia Gillard, as the Prime Minister accused him of being unfit to be a leader.
Mr Abbott addressed an anti-carbon tax rally outside parliament house on Wednesday and stood in front of a banner that read ‘‘ JuLIAR, Bob Brown’s Bitch’’.
While he expressed regret about some of the placards, he refused to criticise the protesters and stepped up his personal attacks against the Labor leader in parliament.
‘‘ We’ve seen quite a few different faces ... the real Julia, the fake Julia, the teary Julia ... the only thing we have never seen is truthful Julia,’’ Mr Abbott told parliament.
Not all the criticism of Mr Abbott has come from Labor, with one Liberal back - bencher saying it had been poor judgment by the Liberal leader to attend the rally.
‘‘ I was very disappointed that Mr Abbott attended ... you can’t support that kind of rhetoric and banners,’’ the MP said, adding that some members of the party were ‘‘ quite happy to associate themselves with that extremism’’.
Labor strategists believe the opposition leader’s tactics might play into the government’s hands, as his personal rating continues to slide in the opinion polls. This week saw the government’s stocks rise in the Newspoll, while Ms Gillard’s standing as preferred prime minister bounced back. Building on her theme that Mr Abbott is flirting with climate sceptics and fringe groups, Ms Gillard said he lacked sound judgment.