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Abbott a charmer after Robb snub

TONY Abbott yesterday lavished praise on a furious Andrew Robb after freezing his finance spokesman out of the decision not to oppose the government's planned boost to compulsory superannuation.

TONY Abbott yesterday lavished praise on a furious Andrew Robb after freezing his finance spokesman out of the decision not to oppose the government's planned boost to compulsory superannuation.

The charm offensive came after Mr Robb signalled that he would speak against the increase in the superannuation guarantee from 9 per cent to 12 per cent within the shadow cabinet on the ground that the Coalition and the country cannot afford it.

"I'm determined that as a government the Coalition will live within its means, but I'm simply not going to be drawn into discussions about internal matters," he said.

Ironically, Mr Abbott nominated Mr Robb's fiscal rigour during his address at a roundtable on manufacturing hosted by the Menzies Research Centre.

Mr Robb remains angry that he was excluded from a phone hook-up of senior figures on Friday that decided to walk away from the plan to rescind the super boost, which the government has linked to the passage of its mining resources rent tax.

Liberal insiders insist there was no conspiracy or snub and the normal practice of the leadership group and the spokesman directly concerned in a decision in this case superannuation spokesman Mathias Cormann had been followed.

Earlier yesterday, Mr Abbott defended the decision, which will reduce government revenue by $740 million over the forward estimates because money contributed to super is taxed at a much lower rate than income.

"What we are proposing to do is entirely consistent with the policy of the Coalition over the last decade," he said. "We don't initiate these superannuation changes, but once they're in place we don't roll them back."

Liberal frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull last night declined to endorse Mr Abbott's rejection of statutory individual contracts. Mr Turnbull said there should be maximum flexibility in the workplace. He also said the Coalition shouldn't be frightened of the "WorkChoices bogey".

Appearing on the ABC's Q&A, Mr Turnbull said the statutory individual contract issue would be addressed closer to the election but Mr Abbott has been categoric that they will not be part of his policy.


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