Tony Abbott is not ready to govern
The former Liberal prime minister, Malcolm Fraser, has joined the surge of former leaders on the campaign trail – saying bluntly the Coalition is not ready for government.
While the toppled Labor leader Kevin Rudd yesterday tried to come to the Gillard government’s rescue – and John Howard told Coalition faithful they could really win the August 21 poll, Mr Fraser was much more downbeat.
Mr Fraser, who quit the Liberal Party late in 2009, said the Coalition was not ready to govern the nation.
When quizzed for his reasoning, however, Mr Fraser told ABC radio: ”Read my book.”
Mr Fraser’s rejection of the coalition contrasted with Mr Howard’s stirring speech at a Chinese community fund-raising dinner.
”Please believe we can win this election,” he said.
”We have a great opportunity to seize our future … to turf out a thoroughly incompetent government.”
Mr Howard’s passionate support for Tony Abbott, the man many people regard as his political protege, prompted the opposition leader to make his own prediction.
”This is no longer a Liberal Chinese community dinner, this is a dinner which is going to storm the country,” he told supporters.
The coalition’s upbeat assessment of its election chances prompted a predictable rebuke from Labor.
”It is an extraordinary level of arrogance that is taking the voters for granted,” Families Minister Jenny Macklin said.
Labor hopes Mr Rudd will give its campaign a kick along, especially in Queensland where the government is battling to retain a swag of marginal seats.
Mr Rudd and Prime Minister Julia Gillard will have discussions about his campaign role when the two meet in Brisbane tomorrow.
Mr Abbott is facing a bout of discontent in his ranks as several Coalition MPs reportedly express concerns about his paid parental leave scheme.
The MPs believe the scheme is excessive and discriminates against stay-at-home mothers.
Nationals MP Darren Chester has told The Australian his support for the scheme was contingent upon support for ”regional mums”.