Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott says his recent charity bike ride from Albury to Sydney was a good chance to reconnect with average voters.
He says people are fed up with both sides of politics, and he believes the Turnbull Government should either change some of its policies or face defeat at the next election.
“We’ve got to do something about housing affordability, and I think that scaling back immigration until housing starts and infrastructure have caught up would be a good way of doing that. We’ve got to do something about political correctness, because we’ve got political correctness running riot in our country right now.”
He told 2GB’s Ray Hadley the government should rein in spending, freeze renewable energy targets and consider defunding the Human Rights Commission.
“As a Liberal, I think we’ve got to do something about Bill Shorten. Because if we don’t do something about Bill Shorten, there could very well be a change of government at the next election and Bill Shorten may not be the world’s worst bloke at a personal level but as a politician he is a union stooge who will send your power prices through the roof.”
But despite the warning, Mr Abbott says he doesn’t have any interest in challenging Malcolm Turnbull for the leadership.
He says the Coalition’s problem is with policy, not personality.
“Generally speaking you don’t get good government by having a revolving door prime ministership. It’s not a question of who is the prime minister so much as it’s a question of what is the government doing.”
Mr Abbott’s public criticisms of the government’s direction have been condemned by his colleagues in the past, including by finance minister Mathias Cormann.
But trade minister Steve Ciobo says Mr Abbott is entitled to air his opinions.
“Every backbencher has a right to put in their view. That’s exactly how our system works. And I encourage every backbencher to keep contributing to the arsenal of policy ideas that the Coalition government has.”
But the opposition says Mr Abbott’s latest veiled criticism of Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership reveals a serious rift in the government.
Labor MP Nick Champion says that division is bad for the country.
“He cannot allow the former prime minister to challenge his authority so blatantly in public. He must, I think, for the good of the country, call his party together, challenge them to either back him or sack him. Because the country can’t afford, in the run-up to the Budget and for the next two years, a government that is so divided.”
Tony Abbott’s 2GB interview is set to be the first of many.
He’s scheduled to appear every fortnight, after host Ray Hadley had a falling out with his former regular Monday guest, treasurer Scott Morrison.