Tony Abbott says he’s not ready to resign from politics and declared “the era of the political assassin” was over following the removal of Malcolm Turnbull as leader of the Liberal Party.
Speaking to 2GB’s Ray Hadley this morning as part of a fortnightly conversation between the pair, the Liberal backbencher began by saying: “I think our country is in better shape today than a fortnight ago.”
Abbott, viewed by many as one of the key provocateurs in last week’s leadership spill, which toppled Turnbull but saw Scott Morrison take his job rather than the initial challenger, the conservative faction’s candidate Peter Dutton, appeared to signal an end to hostilities after gaining his revenge.
“The era of the political assassin is over and thank god for that. We’ve had far too much backstabbing, we’ve had far too much leaking and briefing. And I think we can now put all that behind us,” he said.
Of Turnbull, Abbott concluded: “The former prime minister will be remembered mostly for the way he got into office and for the way he got out of office.”
Morrison, who announced his new ministry last night, left Abbott without a role, but is reportedly keen to offer the former PM a position as special envoy for indigenous affairs.
But Abbott is wary, saying “let’s see what this new role entails”.
Hadley described the position as “an olive branch and sign of respect” and pleaded with Abbott to take the job, saying Morrison – who the talkback host had previously fallen out with – had assured him the role was “fair dinkum” and “we need your experience and your expertise”.
“I want to see us making a difference here, but I don’t just want a title without a role,” Abbott said.
“What I don’t want to do is trip over the toes of the minister.”
He argued it was an already crowded space and “I’d want to know exactly what value I can add”.
Abbott said “the problem with so many areas of our public life, no one is in charge”, describing the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) – the roundtable where the federal and state governments hammer out policy deals to cooperate – as “worse than the European Union”.
“It just reinforces this dog’s breakfast of divided responsibilities,” he said.
Asked about his future in politics, Abbott said: “I’m not retiring, I regard myself as a young man.”
“I still think I have a lot of public life left in me and I am determined to make the most of it,” he said.
With the government punished in the polls on the weekend, with Newspoll finding a 5% swing to Labor, putting them 12 points ahead of the Coalition as 56% to 44%, Abbott said the public will want to give the new Prime Minister “a fair go”.
You can listen to the full interview below:
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