Abbott satisfied with first year in power
Mr Abbott arrived back in Australia on Sunday after a three-day trip to India and Malaysia, in time to celebrate Father’s Day and the one-year anniversary of his election as prime minister.
“We’ve faced some difficult challenges and I think we’ve handled them pretty well,” he told reporters in Sydney.
“I do look back over the past 12 months with some satisfaction.”
Mr Abbott cited his triumphs as: the scrapping of the carbon and mining taxes, stopping the boats and working on budget control.
His party issued a 20-page brochure expounding these achievements.
But the prime minister conceded not everything had been smooth sailing.
“With the wisdom of 20/20 hindsight there are always some things (we could have done better),” he said.
International events including the disappearance of flight MH370, the growing threat of Islamic State jihadists in Iraq and Syria and escalating tensions between Russia and the Ukraine following the downing of MH17 often overshadowed the Abbott government’s domestic agenda.
In a video address to mark the anniversary, Mr Abbott said the “increasingly uncertain world” tested Australians like never before.
The Australian Greens say those events, which Mr Abbott had responded to strongly, rescued him from “complete failure”.
Leader Christine Milne acknowledged the prime minister’s dedication to bringing the bodies of those Australians killed on MH17 home to their families.
“I accept that he did a good job on that front,” she said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten harked back to Mr Abbott’s election night promise to lead a government of no surprises and no excuses.
“When Tony Abbott was elected it was on the basis that things would get better,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“Ever since then we’ve seen nasty surprises and pathetic excuses.”
Opposition frontbenchers issued a flurry of statements on Sunday morning pointing to promises across all portfolios they said had been broken.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon, one of several crossbenchers refusing to back various government budget measures, accused Mr Abbott of “sneaking up on people with quite radical changes”.
“I think some Australians feel more tasered than surprised by some of the changes,” he said, listing deregulation of university fees, a $7 GP co-payment and welfare cuts in particular.
The government faces tough negotiations in its second year to pass those measures, with the Greens and Labor also vowing to oppose them.
Mr Abbott praised his cabinet for their work over the past year, but refused to give himself a personal score card.
“If you give yourself 10 out of 10 they say you’re full of yourself,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.
“If you give yourself seven out 10, they say you lack confidence.”
In the end, his government’s performance was a matter for the Australian people to judge at the next election, he said.