Tony Abbott has just over 12 hours left before he finds out whether he gets to keep his job, having made the surprise decision on Sunday morning to move the vote on spilling the leadership to Monday 9am.
Tonight the Prime Minister appeared on ABC TV news in a last minute plea to his MPs to let him stay leader, saying the move against him has been “very chastening” and pledging to be “different and better”.
“It’s a pretty chastening experience to have a spill motion moved on you after just 16 months in government, a very chastening experience,” Abbott said. “And I am determined that my government, if it continues after tomorrow, will learn from this experience, will be different and better this year than we were in every respect last year”.
The Prime Minister’s main argument against change continues to be that it would make the Liberals look like the former ALP government
“The last thing we want is to see another meltdown in government… frankly it was a bit embarrassing,” he said.
“When you roll a prime minister, you look like the Labor party.
“The last thing our country needs right now is to see another government go into meltdown.”
But he’s also hoping to get South Australian MPs onside with a previously unseen pledge to hold a competitive tender into the $20 billion tender to build new submarines.
“What we have always intended to have is a competitive evaluation process… you would expect the Australian government to give Australian suppliers a fair go,” he said.
A decision is expected by the end of the year, but there had been growing fears that the tender would go to Japan and the South Australian-based, government-owned Australian Submarine Corporation would miss out.
He also outlined action against the hardline Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir and “stronger scrutiny and enforcement of the rules against foreign investment in residential property as well as agricultural land” within weeks.
Monday’s vote on a spill will be a secret ballot, and while he’s had strong support from a united front bench, the Prime Minister conceded it was entirely up to ministers and parliamentary secretaries how they vote.
“I would expect that if a minister was incapable of supporting the government, the minister in question would’ve spoken to me, and none of them have,” he said.
“But nevertheless this is an opportunity for people to do what they genuinely believe is right for the government and for the country.”
“I accept that all prime ministers are, in a sense, on probation,” Abbott said.
If allowed to continue in the job be pledged “I will not let this country down, I will not let this party down”.