Sunday 18 February 2018

Abbot ready to scrap carbon tax

A win for the coalition comes despite the relative unpopularity of party leader Tony Abbott (AP)
A win for the coalition comes despite the relative unpopularity of party leader Tony Abbott (AP)
Three-year-old Xavier Smythe waits for his father Tony, third right, while he votes at a polling booth at Bondi Beach in Sydney (AP)

Australia's new government is preparing to take control of the nation, with prime minister-elect Tony Abbott vowing to immediately scrap a hated tax on carbon polluters and implement a controversial plan to stop asylum seekers from reaching the nation's shores.

Mr Abbott met with bureaucrats to go over his border security plans and said his first priority would be to repeal the deeply unpopular carbon tax on Australia's biggest industrial polluters.

His conservative Liberal party-led coalition won a crushing victory in elections on Saturday against the centre-left Labor Party, which had ruled for six years, including during the turbulent global financial crisis.

Labour was ultimately doomed by years of party instability and bickering, and by its decision to renege on an election promise by implementing the carbon tax, which many Australians blame for steep increases in their power bills.

The Australian Electoral Commission's latest count on Sunday had the coalition likely to win a clear majority of 86 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives. Labor appeared likely to secure 57.

Mr Abbott, 55, began his first day as prime minister-elect with an early-morning bicycle ride from his Sydney home with friends.

"It was a very big night, but this is just the start of another normal day and there's going to be a fair bit of solid work this morning," he told reporters. "There's a lot of work that will be done later today."

In an open letter on Sunday, Mr Abbott said he would immediately implement his border protection plan, under which the Australian navy would turn back Indonesian fishing boats carrying asylum seekers into Australian waters. The coalition has also proposed that the government buy old fishing boats from Indonesian fishermen to prevent them from falling into the hands of people smugglers.

In his letter, Mr Abbott took a dig at the outgoing Labour government's notorious infighting.

He wrote: "We will be a careful, collegial, consultative, straightforward government that says what it means and does what it says and that does not waste your money."

Press Association

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