The Leaderboard profiles the people behind the policies of the Asia-Pacific. This post features The Honorable Tony Abbott the leader of the opposition in Australia’s house of representatives. He will visit Washington DC on July 16-17.
Who is he?
Tony Abbott is the opposition leader in the Australian house of representatives and Leader of the center-right Liberal Party of Australia. Elected in 1994 as the member of parliament for Warringah, he rose through party ranks to become party leader on December 1 2009. Prior to his career in politics Mr. Abbott pursued a career in journalism, writing for ‘The Bulletin’ and ‘The Australian’. Tony Abbott received his bachelors in Economics and Law at Sydney University and was a Rhodes Scholar, receiving a masters in Politics and Philosophy.
Why is he in the news?
Tony Abbott is traveling to Washington DC this week to attend high level meetings in the run up to the 2013 federal elections, including the American Australian Leadership Dialogue. He has become a particularly powerful figure in Australian politics since the 2010 federal elections where the Liberal Party lost by a 2 seat margin and in light of Prime minister Julia Gillard’s waning popularity. Abbott has exploited his large minority in Parliament June 26 by blocking Gillard’s asylum seeker legislation without public backlash. Asylum seeker policy is one of the most pressing concern in Australian politics and although the Gillard has opened her arms to the opposition to arrive at a compromise, Mr. Abbott has flatly refused to cooperate demanding a restoration of the ‘Pacific Solution’ negotiated under the Howard government. It has become clear that in this issue and others, Abbott has become the voice of a growing sense of disappointment in Labor’s policies.
What can we expect from him?
As a conservative politician, one can expect Tony Abbott to follow the classic Liberal Party policy of supporting the US-Australian alliance during his visit next week. If he becomes prime minister, he will attempt to reverse Labor policies that were formed under the Rudd and Gillard governments, particularly by re-implementing the ‘Pacific Solution’. However, conceptually his foreign policy will likely show continuity in principle – Abbott supports a strengthening of Australia’s relationship with key regional partners including Indonesia, China and Japan and an enhanced engagement with the Indian Ocean region and working with these countries through regional architecture.