Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott will seek to extend his 22-year career in politics, after confirming on Sunday night that he will recontest his federal seat of Warringah.
The former Liberal leader said he planned to reconsider his future in September last year, after being ousted from the top job by Malcolm Turnbull.
“I said that I would spend some time talking to family, trusted colleagues and local Liberals about my future,” he said in a statement.
“I have been heartened by the support and encouragement I’ve received to continue to serve the country as a member of parliament.
“Therefore, I am renominating to represent the people of Warringah for another term as their Liberal MP.”
“It has been a great honour to serve the people of Warringah for 22 years and I hope to retain their trust and confidence.”
In the statement, Mr Abbott made no mention of Mr Turnbull or the Coalition government, but did offer his support to NSW Premier Mike Baird.
“Should I be renominated and elected, I am looking forward to working with Premier Mike Baird to ensure that the Warringah Peninsula gets better transport links to the rest of Sydney.” he said.
Preselections for federal Liberal seats in NSW opened on Tuesday, putting pressure on Mr Abbott to decide whether to recontest.
Abbott supported by colleagues
Mr Abbott has been publicly supported by some Liberal ministers, including cabinet minister Greg Hunt and former cabinet minister Eric Abetz.
Mr Hunt told reporters on Friday there was still plenty of room within the Liberals for Mr Abbott.
“It’s a broad church in there and places for many people,” Mr Hunt said in Melbourne.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his office would not be commenting on the announcement at this time.
Before the announcement, made on Mr Abbott’s personal website, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten dubbed him the “Terminator” for considering the move.
“I don’t know about you, but like many Australians (I) share the relief that Tony Abbott’s gone although I notice today that a bit like the Terminator, he’s vowing to have Tony Abbott 2.0, he will be back,” Mr Shorten told ABC radio in Cairns on Wednesday.
Liberal Member for Hughes Craig Kelly welcomed Mr Abbott’s announcement.
“This is a very positive decision for the Liberal Party in its entirety,” he told Sky News.
“Tony still has a lot to contribute and it’s important that we have our experienced members of parliament sitting on the backbench, if they have to, helping all the newer, younger members of parliament.”
Mr Turnbull had nothing to worry about, Mr Kelly said.
Mr Abbott’s decision to stay in politics was unlikely to lead to the Rudd-Gillard rivalry of the Labor party, he said.
‘Abbott should stand down’
Last week, Liberal heavyweights and political insiders told The New Daily the former PM should stand down to allow his party to move forward.
Former Liberal Party leader John Hewson said that Mr Abbott would be detrimental to the party if continued to behave how he had since losing the leadership.
“If he used it [his position in parliament] as a platform to criticise the government I don’t think it is terribly helpful to them,” Mr Hewson said.
Political commentator and electoral voting analyst Peter Brent echoed similiar sentiments.
“With him gone at least everything won’t be interpreted as part of a push to bring Abbott back [as the PM],” he told The New Daily.
“I think it would be better for the Coalition and the Liberal Party if he bowed out [before the 2016 election] because as long as he is around he is a focus of discontent.”
“Every time one of them says something it is seen through that prism [trying to get the PM job back]. It would be in the interests of the party if he went away.”
Former Liberal Premier of Victoria Jeff Kennett, however, disagreed.
He told The New Daily that Mr Abbott should contest the 2016 election, suggesting the country would be stronger with if he and Mr Turnbull were able to work together.
“Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott, working together in the interests of the country bringing to the table different experiences but both of whom as part of a team would almost be unassailable,” he said.
He conceded that Mr Turnbull was a “better communicator” than Mr Abbott, and said the current PM should have the support of the Liberal Party regardless of anyone’s position on the coup.
“The great disappointment that I hope can be corrected is that for some reason they can’t work together,” he said.
-with Anthony Colangelo, AAP