Mi­randa Devine Ab­bott ji­had comes out of the shad­ows

Former prime min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott has had a busy week ac­tively un­der­min­ing the Prime Min­is­ter, and his hypocrisy is not lost on his col­leagues who fear he is jeop­ar­dis­ing mar­ginal Coali­tion seats

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS -

LAST week Tony Ab­bott’s in­sur­gency against Mal­colm Turn­bull fi­nally came out of the shad­ows. No more mealy-mouthed pre­tence that the former PM is just be­ing the best pos­si­ble “Mem­ber for War­ringah”.

No, Ab­bott (pic­tured) is do­ing what he does best, as the op­po­si­tion leader tear­ing down a Prime Min­is­ter. Last week, by la­belling the PM “tricky”, he even sought to blunt the Gov­ern­ment’s strat­egy of por­tray­ing the other Op­po­si­tion Leader, Bill Shorten, as “shifty”.

No won­der En­ergy Min­is­ter Josh Fry­den­berg laughed a lit­tle hys­ter­i­cally on the To­day show on Fri­day when host Ben Ford­ham brought up Ab­bott’s claim the PM was be­ing tricky about mi­gra­tion.

“Tony Ab­bott is al­ways go­ing to cut across what the Prime Min­is­ter has been say­ing lately”, said Fry­den­berg, an Ab­bott loy­al­ist in the 2015 coup.

“I thought he was a mem­ber r of the team,” said Ford­ham.

“You haven’t been pay­ing at- ten­tion”, laughed La­bor’s An- thony Albanese.

“Aren’t the Prime Min­is­ter r and Tony Ab­bott both on the e same team?” said Ford­ham.

“I think you’re cov­er­ing up the e big­gest se­cret in sport, mate,” said d Fry­den­berg.

Ev­ery­one knows the en­mity y be­tween Ab­bott and Turn­bull is s beyond the point of no re­turn.

Last week Turn­bull showed the e strain of hav­ing to shad­ow­box an n en­emy he can­not name with an n emo­tional outburst at a press con- fer­ence.

It was the week Ab­bott’s ji­had d reached a crescendo.

His Pol­lie Pedal char­ity ride, per- fectly co­in­cid­ing with the 30th Newspoll, was rem­i­nis­cent of his elec­tion cam­paigns, with doorstops staged for the cam­era each day.

In this case, high-viz was swapped for ma­roon Ly­cra and a route care­fully cho­sen through the La­trobe Val­ley to show­case his attack on Turn­bull over en­ergy pol­icy.

In five days Ab­bott did a dozen in­ter­views. On Mon­day, to mark Turn­bull’s 30th Newspoll loss, Ab­bott told Ray Hadley on 2GB, “it re­ally is some­thing for Mal­colm to ex­plain, why it ap­plied for me but shouldn’t ap­ply now”.

That night Ab­bott told Sky News’ Paul Mur­ray: “Are peo­ple en­thu­si­as­tic about this Gov­ern­ment?”

On Tues­day, he warned 3AW’s Neil Mitchell of “dam­ag­ing black­outs in Vic­to­ria” if the Hazel-wood power plant was not kept open.

On Wed­nes­day, on Ben Ford­ham’s 2GB pro­gram, he at­tacked the PM and Julie Bishop op for be­ing “very clever with words”, hav­ing their “knick­ers in a twist”, and be­ing at odds with Peter Dut­ton. “A sen­si­ble gov­ern­ment” wouldn’t be­have this way. On Thurs­day, he told 2CC’s Tim Shaw: “No one would pre­tend there aren’t things that could be bet­ter … my prob­lem with the Na­tional En­ergy Guar­an­tee is that it puts a higher pri­or­ity on re­duc­ing emis­sions than re­duc­ing prices”. Which was the op­po­site mes­sage to Fry­den­berg’s Na­tional Press Club ad­dress the day be­fore, pri­ori­tis­ing prices and en­ergy se­cu­rity. That night Ab­bott was in­ter­viewed by his former chief of staff Peta Credlin. Fri­day morn­ing he was on 2GB with Alan Jones, de­cry­ing sub­si­dies for re­new­ables and say­ing Turn­bull had to force AGL to keep the Lid­dell power sta­tion open: “No sen­si­ble gov­ern­ment can see a vi­tal piece of na­tional in­fra­struc­ture taken out of the sy sys­tem for the pri­vate profit of a parti tic­u­lar com­pany”. The hypocrisy is not lost on colle leagues. What he never men­tions is th that it was prime min­is­ter Ab­bott who leg­is­lated the Re­new­able En­ergy Tar­get and signed up Aus­tralia to the Paris cli­mate agree­ment. And it was prime min­is­ter Abb bott and his Trea­surer boast­ing to th the G20 about their as­set re­cy­cling p pol­icy which led to the fire sale of L Lid­dell by the NSW gov­ern­ment to AGL in 2014. The pol­icy gave states in­centi tive pay­ments to sell off as­sets if th they spent the money on in­frast struc­ture be­fore 2019. That was h how Lid­dell came to fund Sydn ney’s dog of a light rail project. Never mind that the AGL sa sale was op­posed by the Aus­trali lian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion. Chair­man Rod Sims warned it would be bad for con­sumers be­cause three com­pa­nies would con­trol 80 per cent of elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion and 90 per cent of the re­tail mar­ket.

He also warned against Ab­bott’s as­set re­cy­cling in­cen­tive, as the lure of pay­ments risked state gov­ern­ments tak­ing ac­tion to lessen com­pe­ti­tion.

AGL an­nounced its plans to close Lid­dell in April, 2015, and prime min­is­ter Ab­bott did noth­ing.

Can you blame Fry­den­berg for tear­ing out what’s left of his hair?

But be­cause he’d laughed at Ab­bott’s wreck­ing, he got the full Alan Jones pay­back on Fri­day: “Josh … you sold your­self out to get the job.”

It is a dire sit­u­a­tion for Coali­tion MPs, espe­cially mar­ginal seat hold­ers.

Tr­ish Worth, a former Howard MP for the mar­ginal seat of Ade­laide and former par­lia­men­tary sec­re­tary to Ab­bott, says he is “let­ting down his col­leagues and help­ing La­bor … it’s ex­tremely self­ish [for some­one] in a safe seat”.

“Any­one I talk to in the par­lia­men­tary wing sees him as a spoiler … if I was a mar­ginal seat holder I would gather the oth­ers and tell him you’re hurt­ing us.

“They should be putting their col­leagues and, quite frankly, their coun­try first be­cause Shorten and his union mates would be very bad for Aus­tralia.”

The irony is that, for all the claims that Ab­bott is stand­ing up for con­ser­va­tive val­ues, his war on Turn­bull threat­ens to wipe out the best of the next gen­er­a­tion of con­ser­va­tive MPs, most of whom have mar­ginal seats.

Only Shorten wins.

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