Forty per cent of Tony Abbott’s MPs opposed him in a leadership vote without a challenger, prompting that a change of Australian PM is inevitable
SYDNEY -Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott today vowed to change after surviving a confidence vote on his leadership, while urging an end to the disunity that has seen the government’s popularity plummet.
In his first public address since surviving this morning’s vote on a spill motion PM Tony Abbott says he is confident the leadership crisis was behind the Liberal Party and the government was committed to change.
At a press conference in Parliament House Canberra this afternoon, Mr Abbott said: “I am confident that have we have put this time behind us and I am confident that as of today, we are back at work for the people of Australia.”
“Me, my cabinet colleagues, my ministerial colleagues, my senior staff, we are all resolved to be and do better” PM said when asked whether PM Abbott’s chief of staff will be staying on or not.
A determined Tony Abbott said: “Every day is a test for the government. And the prime minister and I accept that every day I’m being tested. That’s the way it is. I am determined to do better in these tests in the next few months than I have in the last couple of months. ”
“I’ve listened, I’ve learned and I’ve changed and the government will change with me,” Abbott said after the vote.
Mr Abbott earlier described the vote as a “near-death experience” after a devastating 39 colleagues — nearly 40 per cent — voted against him.
Liberal backbenchers send powerful message to Abbott in 61-39 vote
Earlier today, liberal MPs and Senators gathered in Canberra this morning to vote on the motion to spill the party leadership. Tony Abbott survived the leadership of the Liberal party. However, the vote of 61 against the motion to 39 in favour reveals a divided partyroom which has the potential to cause ongoing leadership questions for the prime minister.
Senate leader Eric Abetz said the 61-39 vote was “a strong result for the Prime Minister”.
“Five years ago Tony Abbott won the leadership by one vote; five years later that margin has increased by a long way,” he told media.
MP Luke Simpkins said nonconformist backbenchers should now give Abbott “the opportunity to implement the changes” he has promised.
“I think that 39 votes for a spill motion is a powerful message. It was clear from what the Prime Minister said afterwards that he has listened to that and he is going to change,” he said.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten released a statement saying the potential leadership spill has been an unstable showing for the government, declaring the Liberal Party to be “in paralysis”.
“Tony Abbott promised he would run a stable and united government,” Shorten said. “This is his biggest broken promise yet.”
Mr. Abbott addressed the partyroom after the vote. Abbott, in a statement from his office following the vote, said he wants to “end the disunity”.
“We think that when you elect a government, when you elect a Prime Minister you should get to keep that government, that Prime Minister until you change your mind,” Abbott said.
“We face many challenges at heart, we are a highly successful country… The challenge for government is to work with you not against you.”
Abbott said the “focus now is once more on jobs, families, a strong economy and safer nation.”
Analysts predict a change of Australian PM is inevitable
Most analysts believe a further challenge is inevitable and the question is how long Mr Abbott’s fellow MPs will give him to try to recover his position in the polls and demonstrate stable leadership.
“Tony Abbott’s leadership has suffered a massive blow – inevitably one that will prove fatal to his leadership,” said commentator Mark Kenny in Fairfax Media.
Noting that a leadership challenge could come as early as this week, Mr Kenny said: “It is no longer a case of if but when… If he survives for any length of time, his fate will be determined by opinion polls to which he will be hostage. This is no way to formulate policy.”
Michael Gordon, political editor in The Age, wrote: “To say he [Mr Abbott] has been placed on notice is an understatement. One more serious misstep will hasten the demise that seems inevitable.”