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

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
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? 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.
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia