Tony Abbott will recontest his seat of Warringah. Photo: Alex EllinghausenA defiant Tony Abbott has resisted calls for him to quit politics and will recontest his seat of Warringah at the next federal election.
The decision, announced on Sunday evening on his personal website, means the former prime minister will look to extend his 22 years in politics and potentially creates a political headache for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The move had been widely expected within the Liberal Party and ends months of speculation which was approaching fever pitch after preselections opened for the NSW branch of the Liberal Party last week.
The decision comes after he lost the leadership last September, and after a summer spent consulting with his family and political confidantes about his future.
Fairfax Media revealed last week that Mr Abbott had told local supporters in his Forestville branch last December that he still had a contribution to make to Australian life and that, he believed, the best way to do that was as an MP.
In a short statement, Mr Abbott said that after leaving the prime ministership, “I said that I would spend some time talking to family, trusted colleagues and local Liberals about my future. I have been heartened by the support and encouragement I’ve received to continue to serve the country as a member of Parliament”.
“Therefore, I am renominating to represent the people of Warringah for another term as their Liberal MP. I am proud of my work to establish the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust that has done so much to improve the amenity of former military land on North Head, Middle Head and Georges Heights. Should I be renominated and elected, I am looking forward to working with Premier Mike Baird to ensure that the Warringah Peninsula gets better transport links to the rest of Sydney.
“It has been a great honour to serve the people of Warringah for 22 years and I hope to retain their trust and confidence.”
Though Mr Abbott mentions Mr Baird by name, no mention is made of Mr Turnbull or the Liberal government in his statement.
A hard core group of supporters of the former prime minister within the parliamentary Liberal Party remain angry about the removal of Mr Abbott as prime minister – some of whom meet regularly in Parliament House’s “monkey pod” room during sitting weeks – and would like to see him re-installed as prime minister, much like Kevin Rudd returned to the nation’s top political job after a three-year campaign destabilising Julia Gillard.
Some supporters of Mr Abbott argue he has no intention of engaging in a similarly clandestine campaign and that he simply wishes to serve his local electors, but others believe that, much like Mr Rudd, he should at the very least be returned to the cabinet if Mr Turnbull is re-elected.
At present, Mr Turnbull enjoys a thumping lead over Opposition Leader Bill Shorten – unlike Mr Abbott, who was massively and consistently unpopular following the 2014 budget – but the new leader is yet to reveal his plans for tax reform, or on a range of other issues.
It is also possible that Mr Abbott has simply renominated for his NSW seat now – nominations close on February 19 – and that he could still change his mind and walk away before the election is held.
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