News National I get the message, Abbott tells MPs

I get the message, Abbott tells MPs

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Tony Abbott says he has received the message from the Liberal backbench “in no uncertain terms”.

The Prime Minister survived an attempted leadership spill at a special meeting of the Liberal party room on Monday – 61 votes to 39.

Addressing the first Coalition party room meeting for the year on Tuesday, Mr Abbott said members should put the events of Monday behind them and end the “self-indulgent” talk.

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“I was given a very strong message in no uncertain terms yesterday,” Mr Abbott said.

He said Labor could be beaten, especially given the opposition would bring back the carbon tax.

The government planned to release a families package in coming months, while imposing “firm clamps” on new spending, he said.

Deputy Leader Julie Bishop gave a theatrical speech in which she declared: “That’s it. Leadership spills are so yesterday.”

Setting out the government’s economic and budget challenge, Treasurer Joe Hockey warned the meeting that no “growth solution” would fix government debt.

“If the government junked its savings measures, the budget would never get back to surplus,” Mr Hockey said.

A number of MPs had questions about controversial government policies such as the Medicare co-payment and the Defence Force pay deal.

Health Minister Sussan Ley acknowledged that “co-payment” had become a dirty word in the community.

But she said negotiations would continue with doctors on the revised Medicare policy, which would be based on three principles: universality, equity and simplicity.

Another MP said the Defence Force pay offer had been a mistake and the government should never have equated defence personnel with public servants in setting the pay rate.

One MP asked the Prime Minister whether he would sack anyone from his office who backgrounded against MPs.

“That is a sacking offence,” Mr Abbott replied.


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