Hawke’s PPL attack is a warning to Abbott

Behind Alex Hawke is an army of Liberal 'dries' who don't want an Abbott government to be like the Fraser government, which they believe was too soft on economic issues.

The Conversation

The fracas over Tony Abbott’s “signature” paid parental policy has given a glimpse behind the curtain of discipline that the opposition leader usually keeps firmly in place and, much more importantly, a hint of the pressures and problems he could face in government.

NSW Liberal backbencher Alex Hawke did not just say what he thought in a random moment of frankness. He launched a major written critique on Abbott’s pet policy, offering it to the Institute of Public Affairs Review. He then followed up with radio and TV interviews. He was on a mission.

The Abbott PPL policy is an “albatross around the neck of the party”, he declared; it wasn’t a “signature policy of the Coalition”; it had “crept into our policy”; it was ill suited to an economically Liberal agenda; it should be scrapped before the election.

You wouldn’t want any money on Hawke’s advancement in an Abbott government. It’s not that his view isn’t shared by quite a lot of Liberals. Indeed, it is. And that’s what makes it more difficult for Abbott.

A couple of colleagues, including moderate Mal Washer, also voiced criticism of the PPL plan, but many others, including at senior levels, are holding their tongues, perhaps their breaths. Discipline is so tight that such a deliberate and determined breach is startling.

Especially as the assault is on something that for Abbott has moved beyond policy to political theology. The man who once objected to government-funded parental leave is offering a vastly more generous scheme than the one Labor has implemented.


{{ twilioFailed ? 'SMS Code Failed to Send…' : 'SMS Code Sent…' }}

Hi {{ user.FirstName }}

Looks like you've already taken a free trial

Please enter your payment details

We have sent you a code via SMS to {{user.DayPhone}}

please enter this code below to activate your membership

We cannot send you a code via SMS to {{user.DayPhone}}

If you didn't receive SMS code please

SMS code cannot be sent due to: {{ twilioStatus }}

Please select one of the options below:

Looks you are already a member. Please enter your password to proceed

Please untick this box when using a public or shared device

Verify your mobile number to unlock a FREE trial

Please sign up for full access

Updating information

Please wait ...

  • Mastercard
  • Visa

The email address you entered is registered with InvestSMART.

Please login or select "Don't know password"

Please untick this box when using a public or shared device

Register as a new member

(using a different email)

Related Articles