News National ‘Make Australia work again’: Tony Abbott pits his vision for Australia against the PM
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‘Make Australia work again’: Tony Abbott pits his vision for Australia against the PM

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Tony Abbott said he suffered minor injuries. Photo: AAP
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Former prime minister Tony Abbott has declared he is in “no hurry to leave public life” as he laid out his vision to “make Australia work again”.

Mr Abbott outlined an alternative policy manifesto to win the next election in a speech to the right-wing think tank the Institute of Public Affairs on Tuesday.

That included a total ban on new government spending, stopping subsidies for new wind power, scaling back immigration, building new coal-fired power stations, locking up known jihadis and reforming the Senate.

“We need to make Australia work again – because our country, plainly, is not working as it should,” he said on Tuesday.

He added: “I can assure you: I’m in no hurry to leave public life because we need strong liberal conservative voices now more than ever.”

The speech comes as new divisions emerge between the moderate and conservative flanks of the Liberal Party over Turnbull ally and frontbencher Christopher Pyne’s claim that same-sex marriage may become law “sooner than everyone thinks”.

Following the speech, the home page of Mr Abbott’s website was updated to prominently feature his six-point plan to “win the next election”, which also calls for an end to “bully bureaucracies”.

In February, Mr Abbott sparked a blowback from Coalition MPs after he suggested the government was on course to lose the next election.

On Tuesday, he clearly contrasted his own vision with the approach of the Turnbull government, warning of the risk of compromise.

“The risk with compromises designed to end policy ‘wars’ is that the war doesn’t actually end, the battleground just shifts, and in the meantime principles have become negotiable, and the whole political spectrum has moved in the wrong direction,” he said.

PM Malcolm Turnbull has shown a willingness to compromise in the Senate. Photo: AAP

The remark follows Mr Turnbull’s Senate win on Gonski 2.0, which was aimed at ending the “school funding wars”, and the release of the government-commissioned Finkel report, widely viewed as an attempt to end the “climate wars”.

Building on the government’s plans to toughen citizenship laws, Mr Abbott called for an immigration slowdown that would “provoke a fierce fight with Labor”.

“That again would just emphasise who’s on Australians’ side and who’s not,” he said.

Amid commentators describing the government’s budget as ‘Labor-lite’, Mr Abbott warned the Coalition that the next election “won’t be won by drawing closer to Labor”.

“The next election can only be won by drawing up new battlelines that give our people something to fight for and the public something to hope for,” he said.

On energy policy, he said the Renewable Energy Target should be capped at the current level of 15 per cent.

And he called on the government to “go it alone” and build a big coal-fired station if the market did not – a policy Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has not ruled out.

Speaking before Mr Abbott’s speech, the PM denied the government was divided.

“The party room is very harmonious, it’s very united,” he told 3AW.

Asked by a talkback caller about the fact Mr Abbott was “gallivanting around the globe” doing a “Kevin Rudd in a blue tie”, Mr Turnbull replied: “Tony Abbott is not a minister, he’s not in the cabinet, he’s not the ministry, he’s one member in the party room.”

The speech also comes as a number of high-profile conservative figures continue their attack on Mr Turnbull’s leadership.

Former Queensland premier Campbell Newman called on Mr Turnbull to resign on Monday night, claiming he had “led the Liberal Party into the valley of death”.

On the same day, Mr Abbott’s former chief of staff Peta Credlin described the Turnbull-led Liberal Party as “little men with soft, soft backbones”, “small minds” and “no ticker”.

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