Abbott levy response hamfisted: Liberals

Posted on February 6, 2011


Jessica Wright February 6, 2011

FACTIONAL tensions are rumbling in the Coalition with MPs divided on Tony Abbott’s performance during the flood crisis as the Opposition Leader attempts to shrug off an embarrassing fund-raising gaffe.

There are growing concerns within the party that Mr Abbott’s response to the flood levy has been ”hamfisted and half-cocked”, according to a Liberal source, leaving the Coalition vulnerable to attack when Parliament resumes this week, when most had expected to be in a strong position to tackle the government on immigration policy and spending programs.

Mr Abbott delivered an own goal last week when an email bearing his signature was sent to Liberal Party members pleading for donations ”to help our campaign against Labor’s flood tax” on the same day category-five cyclone Yasi was bearing down on towns in Far North Queensland.

Responsibility for the mis-step has been placed with Liberal Party director Brian Loughnane but a senior Liberal MP said it was sloppy work on behalf of Mr Abbott’s office.

But another group of MPs – those moderately aligned – told The Sun-Herald they were concerned Mr Abbott lacks the ability to convert his political opportunities into significant wins for the Coalition.

”We should have them [Labor] on the ropes by now,” one said. ”What does it take? We had a prime minister knocked off, they ran a disastrous campaign and the election result came down to the decision of rural independents that we should have been able to sway. We haven’t taken the chances that are there for the offing. And now, we are looking at a bun fight in Parliament over the levy when Labor’s immigration policy should be in the spotlight. Tony should have laid low during the floods.”

The source detailed apparent growing rancour between opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey, with the former reportedly agitating for the latter’s job. This had led to conservative MPs quietly sounding out colleagues, warning of the perils of unstable relationships and rivalries in the ranks.

Another Liberal MP said he was aware there was chatter among the Coalition but put it down to the frustrations ”that come with opposition”.

Media Sourced