In an opinion piece for The Australian on Friday, Abbott names and shames critics of his calls for cuts to Australian immigration, and suggests they have not read his speech.
“One thing I am not going to cop is gratuitous criticism from ministers who are only in government because I led them there,” the federal member for Warringah writes.
“It is the prime minister’s right to choose his ministerial team and, given some of the policies of this government, I’m happy to serve on the backbench.”
The former prime minister lobbed a grenade into the immigration debate this week by calling for Australia’s permanent migration intake to be slashed by 80,000 places per year to 110,000.
That sparked a war of words with senior coalition colleagues all slapping down Abbott, and continuing after his latest string of suggestions, including that those ministers wouldn’t be in government without him.
“We were part of that team that made that happen,” Treasurer Scott Morrison responded in Sydney today.
He also fired back on immigration – his portfolio in Abbott’s government.
“I know quite a lot about immigration issues, and we’ve been running a very strong policy in that area,” he said.
Acting Prime Minister Mathias Cormann, also named and shamed in Abbott’s stinging piece, stood by his remarks on Thursday that Abbott was wrong.
“Tony Abbott is entitled to his views and we are entitled to ours,” he said on Friday.
From halfway across the world Trade Minister Steve Ciobo, in Washington with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, said he didn’t want to get into a tit-for-tat but wouldn’t stand by while immigrants were blamed.
“Let’s not pretend this is about numbers of immigrants, the fact is Australia is a richer country because of immigration,” he told Sky News.
Acting Prime Minister Mathias Cormann and Treasurer Scott Morrison have also drawn Abbott’s ire.
“You’d think a government that’s lost the past 27 Newspolls might be curious about how it could lift its game,” Abbott wrote.
“But no, ministers have gone out of their way to attack a colleague who knows more about winning elections than anyone in the parliament.”
Australia’s population is expected to grow by 11.8 million people by 2046, which is equivalent to adding a new city roughly the size of Canberra each year for the next 30 years.
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