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Abbott likely to dump uni, Medicare changes to stall revolt


TONY Abbott is likely to dump or radically alter controvers­ial changes to universiti­es and Medicare as he tries to ward off a backbench-led leadership coup.

Some Liberal MPs have publicly called for a leadership spill at next Tuesday’s party room meeting in the wake of a series of missteps by the Prime Minister and poor poll results.

Yesterday, Trade Minister Andrew Robb, who sat in a two-day Cabinet meeting this week, said their concerns were legitimate and the PM and ministers were listening.

“We allowed some surprise policies to be dropped out in the Budget last year to do with education, to do with health,” he said.

While the policies had merit, they had not been properly discussed within the party and the Government had allowed Labor to “frighten people” about them.

Crossbench senators have suggested Mr Abbott ditch university deregulati­on and set up an independen­t, bipartisan inquiry to look at the future of the sector.

The final shape of what’s being described in Liberal circles as a “pain-free” solution to escalating health spending, without a GP co-payment, is still to be determined.

Earlier ex-minister Arthur Sinodinos, now a backbench senator, said his support for Mr Abbott was not unconditio­nal.

Asked if Mr Abbott would be leader next week, he said: “Comrade, ask me next week.”

Mr Abbott said he was “very confident” of being PM at the end of next week. “I know my colleagues, I trust my colleagues, I respect my colleagues,” he said yesterday.

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