10 Feb 2015

Backbenchers to test Abbott's promise

8:20 am on 10 February 2015

Australian Federal Government backbenchers are expected to use today's party room meeting to test the Prime Minister's promise that they will have more control and input on policy development.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks after retaining the leadership of the Liberal party. Photo: AFP

Tony Abbott promised to be more consultative, and include backbenchers in policy discussions, in the wake of yesterday's failed motion for a leadership spill - which would have meant the leadership was declared vacant, and open for re-election.

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"We will socialise decisions before we finalise them, and that way we're more likely to take the people with us," Mr Abbott said.

Thirty-nine out of 101 Liberal MPs and senators voted for the spill, but most appear willing to give Mr Abbott time to act on his concessions, which include winding back the power of his office.

Former party whip and MP for Leichhardt Warren Entsch supported the spill motion, but he said if the Prime Minister sticks to his word, MPs would be able to better represent their electorates as policies are developed.

"I welcome those changes, and if he's able to do that then he's got my absolute support," Mr Entsch told AM.

Mr Entsch expects some colleagues to raise troublesome policies like the proposed GP co-payment as MPs and senators meet for their regular party room meeting today.

"Absolutely, and I would expect that we would have further discussion on issues such as that," he told AM.

"But I mean it's much broader than that as well, there are lots of other things that need to be discussed.

"I like to see some of [the savings from dropping the paid parental leave policy] going for example into childcare, and I know there's been an indication that that's possible.

"In my area it's a major issue, I now welcome the opportunity of having a contribution in that area."

Mr Entsch also made it clear that as the chair of the Northern Australia committee, he expects to have significant input as Cabinet considers a new strategic document on the future of the region.

"Because that's getting towards the pointy end now, and I think it's absolutely critical that I be involved in that."


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