Article – Backbenchers to test PM's promise of more control and consultation on policy issues

10 February 2015
Naomi Woodley
ABC News
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.
Tony Abbott has promised to be more consultative and include backbenchers in policy discussions, in the wake of Monday’s failed motion for a leadership spill.
“We will socialise decisions before we finalise them, and that way we’re more likely to take the people with us,” Mr Abbott told the ABC’s 7:30 program.
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 stuck to his word, MPs would be able to better represent their electorates as policies were developed.
“I welcome those changes, and if he’s able to do that then he’s got my absolute support,” Mr Entsch told the ABC’s AM program.
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 child care, 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.”
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks after retaining the leadership of the Liberal party.
Courtesy of ABC News

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