Opposition Leader Tony Abbott
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott

Abbott pushes election deadline

THE people of Australia expect an election no later than August next year and would view any attempt to go beyond that as "cheating", Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has told the Coalition joint party room.

Mr Abbott welcomed his colleagues back from the six-week winter break, telling them they were now in the "home stretch".

But he cautioned against taking the party's strong position for granted, a reference to the Coalition's commanding lead in the polls.

He said given the 2010 election was held in August people expected it to be held within the three-year time frame.
Mr Abbott said people were "yearning for decent adult government".

In a sign Coalition MPs had resigned themselves to the current government going full-term, Liberal Party Deputy Leader Julie Bishop also spoke about an election deadline.

She referred to recent statements by Labor ministers suggesting the election would be held at the end of next year, telling Coalition MPs "We can't let them get away with that".

Ms Bishop said the public had set a deadline of August 2013 for the next election, which would be a referendum on the carbon tax.

A number of other key issues were canvassed during the party room meeting, including the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the National Broadband Network and cuts to defence spending.

But, not surprisingly, the findings of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers featured prominently.

Mr Abbott and Ms Bishop spoke about the issue, describing Prime Minister Julia Gillard's endorsement of the panel's 22 recommendations as a "humiliating climb-down".

Ms Bishop said the Prime Minister was "culpable" for the deaths at seas because as shadow minister she was the author of the policy Labor adopted after the 2007 election.

She said Ms Gillard should be made to apologise for the "shameful fiasco".

Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison briefed the party room on the government's amendments to the migration legislation, claiming it was an endorsement of Coalition policy.

He said while the Opposition would support the legislation, which would pave the way for processing asylum-seeker claims in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, it needed to go further.

"We can't expect Howard government outcomes without the full suite of Howard government policies," Mr Morrison told the party room, a reference to temporary protection visas and turning boats around.

On the issue of electricity prices, Ms Bishop said the Prime Minister's attempt to blame the states for soaring electricity prices constituted "hypocrisy piled upon dishonesty".

She said it was an attempt to play down the effect of carbon pricing on power prices.



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