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Tony Abbott has been a model Leader of the Opposition

Screen shot 2010-07-22 at 08.34.24 With just a few weeks until the Australian General Election the opinion polls suggest that Labor will be re-elected. Given that every first-term Australian government has been re-elected since WWII that won't be nuch of a surprise. What is noteworthy is the effectiveness of Tony Abbott, Liberal leader, since he ousted Malcolm Turnbull last year.

Under Turnbull the Liberals were in full 'decontamination mode', agreeing with Kevin Rudd's hugely popular government on climate change and downplaying issues like immigration. Abbott changed all that and started doing what Leaders of the Opposition should do; oppose.

As the extracts from leading Australian commentators prove, his harrying style of politics not only forced Labor to dump Kevin Rudd (at one time the country's most popular ever PM) but he has also forced government u-turns on the environment, a mining super-tax and immigration. Abbott proves that you don't have to be in government to have a major influence on policy.

Greg Sheridan, The Australian: "Abbott forced Labor to move much closer to the Coalition on the mining tax, with many of its previously non-negotiable points abandoned. Now Abbott has forced Gillard to adopt Howard's policy on illegal immigrants. He has even forced her to describe asylum-seekers as illegal immigrants, as she did in her speech yesterday. Taken altogether, it establishes that Abbott is ruling the country from opposition, the next best thing to ruling it from government."

Spectator Australia: "It is a measure of Tony Abbott’s success that, in Julia Gillard’s first fortnight as prime minister, she has backed down at least partially on her predecessor’s mining industry super tax and changed the government’s tune on asylum-seekers. Recall that in 2007, Ms Gillard said the Rudd Labor government was ‘committed to ending the so-called Pacific Solution, we would not have offshore processing in Manus Island and Nauru’. Just last year she declared, ‘We also said to the Australian people … we were going to end the Pacific Solution which had cost so much money for so little result.’ And now? In a major speech on immigration and asylum-seekers — hot-button issues that internal Labor polling reportedly showed were killing Kevin Rudd’s chances for re-election in outer suburban and sun-belt electorates — she has proposed something that looks an awful lot like the Pacific Solution, processing refugees not in Nauru, but in East Timor."

Malcolm Farr, The Daily Telegraph: "Abbott deserves almost as much credit as Gillard for rolling Kevin Rudd, certainly more than the backroom plotters. It should be remembered that a significant number of senior ministers, including some who moved against Rudd, believed he might have won the coming election. However, Abbott had made the Government and its former leader so insecure the senior ministers didn’t want a fighting chance, they wanted certainty."


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