‘He knows exactly what he’s doing’: PM on Abbott attack


The Prime Minister has defended his track record after criticism from Tony Abbott that the Turnbull government risks a ‘drift to defeat’ at the next election if it does not lift its performance.

Malcolm Turnbull says his government is getting things done that would not have been possible in the last parliament.

“I’m not going to be provoked. The fact is my government has a record of achievement. In the last six months or so since the election, we have achieved more through the senate with fewer seats in the house and fewer seats in the senate than we did in the previous three years,” Mr Turnbull told 3AW Radio in Melbourne.

“He (Tony Abbott) knows exactly what he’s doing. I’m not going to go into what private conversations I have with him but he knows exactly what he’s doing and so do his colleagues.

“We’ve got to be careful to maintain our reputation as a steady adult government. That is the leadership I give.

This is consistent and committed national leadership,” he said.

'Our challenge is to be worth voting for'

Mr Abbott has laid out his own plan for a coalition victory, which includes scaling back immigration, halting all new spending, scrapping the Human Rights Commission and ending subsidies for renewable energy

"Our challenge is to be worth voting for," Mr Abbott said.

"Our politics can't be just a contest of toxic egos or someone's vanity project."

His comments have been widely criticised by senior members of the Turnbull government, including those who stood by Mr Abbott in the leadership spill that saw him lose the Prime Ministership.

Cormann saddeded by 'destructive commentary'

“I find it sad. As you know I’ve been a long-standing, loyal and reliable supporter of Tony Abbott for the whole period of his leadership from the very beginning to the very end. I’m just saddened by what self-evidently is his decision to provide more and more destructive commentary. He’s not helping our cause, he’s not helping our country, he’s not helping himself,” Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told Sky News.

Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne rejected Mr Abbott’s policy suggestions.

"We won't be going down the track of putting a freeze on immigration, for example, which Tony wants to do, because it would be catastrophic," he told the Nine Network.

"We won't be slashing spending - Tony Abbott tried that in the 2014 budget during his leadership but of course a whole lot of zombie legislation sat in the Senate unable to be passed."

Mr Pyne said the government was getting on with the job and Australians were "pretty happy" with Malcolm Turnbull's leadership.

“The worst thing we could do is get distracted."

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said the government was a shambles and suffering from a policy vacuum.

"The government doesn't have an agenda," he said on the Nine Network.

"Tony Abbott's solution is to say 'take what I did in the 2014 budget and go more extreme, go harder'.

"Tony Abbott is delusional and the government is dysfunctional," he said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the Liberal party welcomed policy suggestions from ministers and backbenchers but she rejected Mr Abbott's "drift to defeat" view.

"I don't accept that characterisation at all. I believe that the Turnbull government has been pursuing policies that are in the interests of the Australian people.

“We’ve passed a lot of legislation probably more legislation in the last 12 months than previously,” she told reporters in London.

Mr Abbott also suggested that the Prime Minister should live at Kirribilli House instead of his own home at Point Piper.

Malcolm Turnbull said he does not accept that view.

“Sydney is not the capital of Australia. The capital of Australia is Canberra. Lucy and I live in our own house, we pay for our own bills, our own groceries and I think that’s what Australians expect.”


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