Prime Minister Tony Abbott appears to be facing a backbench revolt over some of his government's big-ticket items.
The proposal for a 'deficit levy' has been described as 'electoral suicide' by at least one senior Liberal MP, who fears that it could be his 'Gillard moment' given his pre-election promise to not raise taxes. The levy hasn't yet been confirmed or denied, but Abbott yesterday implied that a temporary levy would not be a tax.
Abbott's paid parental leave scheme – his 'captain's call', widely interpreted as an attempt to address his historic unpopularity with women – has always been disliked in Coalition ranks, where it's considered too generous to wealthy parents given the budget circumstances. The Australianreports this morning that Abbott has backed down and tightened the scheme's eligibility requirements.
And there appears to be a groundswell of backbench opposition to the government's proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act. MPs Craig Launcy and Ken Wyatt – parliament's only Indigenous MP – have indicated they may cross the floor if the government persists with the changes.
A recalcitrant back bench compounds the difficulties Abbott is likely to face with the new Senate. He must now find a way to assuage his own party's doubters, or back down without looking like he's caved in.
Russell Marks Politicoz Editor
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