Former prime minister Tony Abbott will stay on as an MP until at least the next election, revealing today that he won’t consider his political future until the pre-selection process starts in about April-May next year.
The Australian reports that the MP for Warringah, who was expected to make a decision about his future early in the new year will continue on the government backbench in the lead up to the 2016 election and won’t retire early and cause a by-election.
His former treasurer and colleague Joe Hockey stepped down in October after 20 years in politics and today was named as Australia’s next ambassador to the US. Hockey also revealed in an interview with businessman Mark Bouris that he had to leave politics because if he’d stayed his focus would have been “overwhelmingly about getting even with people that brought me down”.
Members of Malcolm Turnbull’s government have been wary about the former PM’s plans, despite his pledge that there would be “no wrecking, no undermining, no sniping”, as a war of words over recollections about what happened during his leadership erupted between foreign minister Julie Bishop and Abbott last week.
While some are advocating Abbott’s return to the front bench, and other Liberals look at defecting to the Nationals, some fear that like Kevin Rudd after he was deposed by Julie Gillard, Abbott will remain focussed on getting his old job back.
Last month the backbencher offered his view that Australia should commit more troops to Syria in an opinion piece that contradicted government policy on national security. He’s also been holding regular lunch meetings with conservative supporters, adding to concerns that a breakaway dissident group could white-ant Turnbull’s government.
The potential remains for Abbott to contest the election next year, just as Rudd did with Gillard as leader, before he launched a challenge against her as she languished in the polls.
Tony Abbott has served as an MP for nearly 20 years.
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