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Backbenchers ‘more vocal’

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The prime minister can expect to be grilled by more assertive backbench MPs on Tuesday, a Liberal senator says.

MPs will get the chance to ask questions of Tony Abbott and his ministers, and voice their concerns, when the coalition joint party room meeting gets under way from 9.30am in Canberra.

Mr Abbott has promised to be more consultative and “socialise” the decision making process on policy, after a motion to spill the Liberal leadership was defeated 61 to 39 on Monday.

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Former assistant treasurer Arthur Sinodinos said Tuesday’s meeting would be a “new paradigm” for the government.

“I suspect you’ll find a lot of MPs on their feet raising issues,” he told ABC Radio.

“I think there’s a new assertiveness on the backbench.”

Senator Sinodinos had supported the spill motion.

Fellow Liberal Warren Entsch, who also backed the motion, expects his colleagues to raise unpopular policy plans such as the GP visit co-payment.

“I would expect that we would have further discussion on issues such as that,” the Queensland MP told ABC Radio.

A chastened Mr Abbott met party committee chairs and ministers on Monday afternoon to discuss ways to re-engage with MPs and the community.

Mr Abbott says he’s heard the message from the leadership vote and won’t pursue legislative fights with the Senate the government cannot win.

Medicare changes are still being negotiated with medical professional groups and the lower house will debate controversial university deregulation plans on Tuesday.

The Labor caucus will also meet on Tuesday, after being buoyed by strong polls showing the party retains a clear two-party preferred lead over the government.

Parliamentary secretary Steve Ciobo said the vote for a leadership spill had dealt with backbench concerns in a democratic way.

“It was an unedifying experience that took place, but it’s behind us now,” he told ABC radio.

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