Tony Abbott, former prime minister of Australia, has failed to deny reports that he may run a campaign seeking a spot in Liberal party leadership should the coalition lose the next federal election.
While presiding over the launch of a new book by Pauline Hanson, leader of One Nation, Mr Abbott was heard saying that everyone was “always better the second time around”. This could be interpreted as a reference to both Senator Hanson and himself.
Abbott, a high profile Liberal backbencher, is supposedly gauging support for his becoming the Liberal opposition leader, should Labor win the next election. When asked to comment on his potential aspirations, Abbott said that his public life was “a vocation” and “not a career, it’s a calling”.
He went on to say that his public life has “its ups and downs” but that people shouldn’t give up on it “just because you’ve had a down”.
These remarks are undoubtedly frustrating for those in the Coalition who are tired of Abbott’s routine criticism and denial of his own failings during his time as prime minister. Despite his promises that he would not undermine the Coalition when he lost the job as prime minister in 2015, he has consistently spoken out during debates on public policy and offered his conservative vision for Australia.
Abbott has advocated for immigration intake to be cut in half and that Australia’s renewable energy target should be frozen. These policies, to many, are more aligned with Hanson’s One Nation party than with mainstream Liberals.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with Pauline Hanson, Abbott declared the One Nation party as “an ally” and suggested that the Liberal party preference One Nation over the Greens and Labor. Abbott said this was because One Nation had cooperated “constructively” with the Senate and Federal Government.
Abbott said that the Coalition would have been unable to “pass any legislation in the current Parliament” were it not for Pauline Hanson and her party. He went on to say that it was “only right and proper” that Hanson is rewarded for her “constructive conduct”.
Hanson and Abbott have not always seen eye to eye and their past relationship has been rocky to say the least. Not long ago the idea of them sharing a stage would have been implausible.
It would appear that Tony Abbott is either actively seeking the heavily conservative One Nation vote or is pitching himself as a middle man in a partnership between One Nation and the Liberals.