TASMANIAN Liberal Senator Eric Abetz has declared that 2017 will be the year his party needs to claw back its conservative base from other parties while developing policies for middle Australia.
Senator Abetz in an interview with Fairfax Tasmania expressed disappointment following the passing on Wednesday of a heavily amended bill to reinstate union watchdog, the Australian Building and Construction Commission – legislation that had triggered this year’s federal election.
He said government concessions to win crossbench support were “regrettable”.
Senator Abetz said the regulations announced in April 2014, that stipulated that any company that had undertaken a union deal in recent years would not be eligible for government work, would be delayed by a further two years.
“Those companies that were good corporate citizens and refused to deal with (the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union) in this manner have effectively been punished,” he said.
“We as a government have a $50 billion infrastructure spend to roll out … and to have this exposed to ongoing rorts and rip-offs is to shortchange the taxpayer.”
Senator Abetz further reflected on the government’s “disappointing” narrow election win federally and devastating loss at a state level where the party lost all lower house seats.
“Those of us who argued for a strong local campaign were swamped by the view that the national campaign should apply and we have seen the results,” he said.
“Since the election, it would be fair to say that the government stocks, according to the opinion polls, have slipped a bit further.
“As a result, 2017 has to be the year where we rebuild as a government … where we ensure that we do look after the forgotten people – the low-to-middle income earners.”
Senator Abetz said 1.7 million votes went to other conservative and right-wing parties in this year’s election.
“That is a lesson that we cannot take our base for granted,” he said.