Monday, September 26, 2011


Source: The Daily Telegraph, 26.9.11

A FIERY showdown is believed to have erupted in Tony Abbott's office as senior frontbenchers demanded an explanation for his promise not to re-introduce individual workplace contracts.

It is believed Julie Bishop and Joe Hockey ordered Mr Abbott's staff to leave before confronting him over the confused industrial relations policy last Wednesday.

It came after Mr Abbott ruled out the return of individual workplace contracts as part of any IR law reform in an interview the previous night.

"They both got stuck right into him," a senior Liberal source said.

"Only Barnaby (Joyce) was in there to defend him."

Mr Abbott - already facing pressure within the party room to commit to changes to the Fair Work Act which would provide more workplace flexibility - had failed to inform several members of his leadership group about the sudden change in policy.

Another Coalition source confirmed the confrontation and said Ms Bishop and Mr Hockey were furious.

"They all went to the trouble of getting their lines right on the issue, saying we would announce policy before the election and it would be based on pragmatism, then the leader walks out and just announces there will be no individual contracts," they said. "It was the first we heard of it."

Liberal backbenchers Kelly O'Dwyer and Jamie Briggs have both clashed with Mr Abbott over the refusal to engage on IR policy, calling for the debate to be had in the party room.