Prime Minister Tony Abbott was today asked the same question about backbench support that he put to Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, when she had faced a leadership challenge three years ago.
In the first question to the PM in the House of Representatives this year, Opposition leader Bill Shorten asked Tony Abbott:
“Given that nearly half of his parliamentary colleagues, including two-thirds of his Liberal backbenchers, have today expressed their lack of confidence in him, how can he claim to have a mandate to continue as Prime Minister?”
On 27 February 2012 during Parliament Question Time, Abbott asked then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard: “Given that one-third of her parliamentary colleagues and a quarter of her cabinet colleagues have today expressed their lack of confidence in her, how can she claim to have a mandate to continue as Prime Minister?”
Gillard won the leadership ballot 71-31.
Abbott survived a motion to spill the leadership 61-39.
His answer to Shorten today was:
“I can understand why the Leader of the Opposition doesn’t want to remember the election. It would be something he would rather forget, but this PM and this Government did win an election and that is the mandate that we are carrying out.”