You better not pout, you better not cry…Tony Abbott is Santa for his girls but no one else.
We all know it can’t be Christmas every day, right?
So said Tony Abbott in his first set piece speech at the National Press Club since the announcement of the September 14 election on Wednesday.
We also discovered, via a leak to News Ltd’s Simon Benson hours before, that there was much finessing of the speech to ensure the Opposition came across as “a good bloke”.
A good bloke, that is, but not Santa.
“As every family knows, it can’t be Christmas every day”, said Abbott. According to the emails, Abbott’s press secretary had wanted to remove a promise to ditch Labor’s school kids bonus but in the end, probably as a result of the leak, it was kept in the speech.
The press secretary also wanted to see more of the “vision” thing.
But the main message was that as a “good bloke”, Abbott could be trusted to do what he says.
We had heard much of the content before. There was a repeat of his promises to scrap the carbon tax, stop refugee boats and cut $1 billion of red tape.
It was the questions from the press gallery that yielded the most insight.
Now we know Abbott will follow through on his threat to hold a double dissolution election in 2014 if the Senate tries to stop him scrapping the carbon tax.
Abbott will not institute a carbon emissions trading scheme, as outlined by John Howard in 2007, in place of the carbon tax.
Climate change policy will be Direct Action all the way, amounting to planting trees and trying to improve carbon technologies.
He did acknowledge climate change was real and that humanity made a contribution to the warming of the planet.
Abbott will live in the Prime Minister’s Lodge in Canberra and believes it is a home fit for a prime minister.
As health minister, Abbott admitted he broke promises to keep the Medicare safety net because he was rolled by colleagues.
As leader, he said he would not break promises because “I am now the authority”.
We can expect his colleagues will stay in their cabinet positions if the Coalition wins government. That is, Joe Hockey as Treasurer, Julie Bishop at foreign affairs minister and Malcolm Turnbull as communications minister, among others.
In fact Turnbull got a special mention in Abbott’s speech as absolutely the right person to execute the slimmer, cheaper Coalition National Broadband Network, delivered in quicker time.
It seems Abbott is keen to keep Turnbull close at hand and use his popularity.
Oh and Abbott is cool with the fact that the public don’t warm to him. “Anyone who knows me well,” Abbott quipped, “knows I have a healthy self esteem and I can live with the fact that not everyone likes me.”
He promised there would be no blood bath or night of the long knives in the public service under an Abbott government.
Asked about involvement by Liberal candidate and former Howard minister Mal Brough in the James Ashby sexual harrassment allegations against the former speaker Peter Slipper, Abbott placed his hand on his heart. “I can say … no member of the federal Coalition has had involvement in the Ashby matter.” (Brough, who was criticised by the judge for his involvement, is not yet a federal member.)
Abbott refused to answer whether he considered it appropriate for Brough to have Slipper’s staffers take material from the speaker’s private diary.
Abbott was also asked about his propensity to walk away from press gallery press conferences without taking questions. It appears nothing will change under prime minister Abbott.
“I don’t believe all political wisdom resides in the Canberra press gallery.”
An Abbott government will scrap the Minerals Resource Rent Tax and again committed to remove Labor’s tax benefits for low income super contributions that were funded by the MRRT, which would make super contributions more expensive for lower income workers.
So there you have it – a few more colours shaded in the man most likely to be Australia’s next prime minister.
“I am ready, the Coalition is ready, Australia is ready.
“Now it is time for you to choose your prime minister”.
Get set Australia.