Tide turns against Abbott in guns for votes row

Tony Abbott appears to have misjudged and mishandled the issue of the ban on the Adler lever action shot gun.

Opinion and the facts are running against him, and rightly so. The case he has made is flimsy and will not stand much scrutiny.  At best, Abbott will be seen as not in control of his office while Prime Minister, at worst he will be seen as lying to the Australian people and to Parliament.

Laura Tingle in the Fin Review writes: Nothing is simple in politics anymore. Tony Abbott’s blatant attempts to exploit controversy over gun laws blew up on him in Parliament on Thursday.

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Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott delivers a personal explanation at the end of Question Time on Thursday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

But instead of it being a simple case of a troublemaker finally shooting himself in the foot, the concerns in the government are that it will only blow wide open the tensions between the current and former prime ministers after the two men effectively called each other liars in the Parliament.

SMH reports: Malcolm Turnbull has publicly contradicted his predecessor, Tony Abbott, suggesting the former prime minister lied by claiming his office was unaware of a 2015 deal to trade a Senate vote for a change in gun laws.

At the heart of the matter is whether a deal was done with Senator Leyonhjelm trading his vote for  migration legislation against the sunset clause on the Adler lever action shot gun.

Leyonhjelm claims that he was “dudded” on the deal but appears quite certain that there was a deal.

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Abbott claims: “the Minister for Immigration [Peter Dutton] and the Minister for Justice [Michael Keenan] made a deal to trade guns for votes without the authority of the then prime minister”.

But Turnbull contradicts him “”I have made inquiries of my ministers and can say to the House as a result of those inquiries I’m satisfied that the Minister for Justice acted in the full knowledge of the Prime Minister’s Office at that time.”

Abbott will claim that Dutton and Keenan were acting unilaterally or that he was simply not informed about the arrangement with Leyonhjelm. This hand-passes the issue  to Peta Credlin who said on Sky said “there was absolutely no deal between Tony Abbott and David Leyonhjelm in order to bring in the Adler shotgun”  which may be true but doesn’t really address the issue of the sunset clause.

But the facts are that the sunset clause, which was presumably part of the deal, was inserted in the legislation.

For a man who was on the ABCs 7.30 claiming credit for being a member of the Howard government, which took a strong stance against firearms in Australia, to wash his hands of legislation that was passed while he was Prime Minister, is disingenuous.

U.S. President Harry S. Truman kept a sign with that phrase on his desk in the Oval Office  saying “the buck stops here.”

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The only person who remained strangely silent on the issue is the good Senator who must be grinning like the Cheshire cat at the mischief he has caused.

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