Ex-Aussie PM Abbott says he will seek another term in Parliament

Mr Abbott remains a figurehead in the party's conservative wing and could prove a lightning rod for internal dissent against PM Turnbull.
Mr Abbott remains a figurehead in the party's conservative wing and could prove a lightning rod for internal dissent against PM Turnbull.

CANBERRA • Ousted Australian prime minister Tony Abbott says he will seek another parliamentary term in this year's elections - creating a potential rallying point for conservative lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Party and a headache for his successor, Mr Malcolm Turnbull.

"I have been heartened by the support and encouragement I have received to continue to serve the country as a Member of Parliament," Mr Abbott said in a statement on his website.

He will once again contest the Sydney northern beach seat of Warringah, which he has held for the past 22 years.

While Mr Abbott's two-year tenure as primeminister was blighted by party infighting andpoor decision-making, he remains a figurehead in its conservative wing and could prove a lightning rod for any future internal dissent against MrTurnbull. That could eventually undermine the leader's authority, according to political analyst Haydon Manning.

"While Abbott's announcement won't cause Turnbull immediate concern because he's popular and should easily be elected, down the track, it could bode ill for party solidarity," said Professor Manning, who teaches politics at Flinders University in Adelaide.

"The conservatives want Abbott to remain as their rallying point and now he's stepping up to do it."

Since winning power, former banker Mr Turnbull, 61, has turned around the Liberal-National coalition's prospects for re-election, giving the government a winning lead over Labor in opinion polls.

Mr Turnbull is concentrating on economic issues, including taking a tax-reform package to the next election, which he has said he expects will be held in September or October.

Prof Manning said pressure may increase on Mr Turnbull from the party's conservatives to give his predecessor a ministry position.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2016, with the headline 'Ex-Aussie PM Abbott says he will seek another term in Parliament'. Print Edition | Subscribe