JUST hours after Australia’s Opposition Leader Tony Abbott touched down in London, he was busy pressing the flesh and meeting wide eyed Liberal supporters at Westminster’s Mint Hotel. He is in London for a short visit for the International Democratic Union (IDU)Party Leaders Meeting, hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron. The IDU is chaired by one of Mr Abbott’s political idols, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who Mr Abbott described as, next to his dad, the most important person in his life. “If I can bring the same strengths to the new government that he bought to the last, I’ll be very proud.”
Despite being labelled the current ‘Dr No’ of Australian politics, thanks to his strong stance on carbon tax, Mr Abbott had time during his London visit to speak at the launch of a new Liberal global supporters group, Australian Liberals Abroad. The Aussie Opposition Leader was gracious enough to give Australian Times an exclusive interview at the event launch, after firstly naming us “the most important newspaper in the UK”.
“It’s always a pleasure to be in the United Kingdom and particularly in London because no country on earth is closer to Australia than the United Kingdom and over the years I’ve spent a bit of time here, including two glorious years as a student at Oxford so it’s nice to be back,” Mr Abbott happily told Australian Times Editor Tim Martin.
And he was quick to touch on the hot topic of the moment, the economic chaos that is Europe.
“Look, there’s always lessons to be learnt here in London and at the moment from Europe. There’s some positive lessons to be learnt from aspects of the current British Government’s policies and I think there are some problems that have been highlighted in Europe and we need to re-double our efforts to avoid them.”
He said that the main lesson for Australia right now “is whatever you do, don’t get yourself into the kind of fiscal mess that some of the countries of Europe have”.
On the formation of Australian Liberals Abroad, Mr Abbott was only too pleased to see a greater coming together of overseas Liberal supporters and also saw a practical use for them too.
“The beauty of Australian Liberals Abroad here in London is that they can help to man the largest polling booth in Australian elections, currently Australia House. I want all Australians, home and abroad, to vote and this is a way of making sure they vote in the best possible way for the future of our great country.”
The International Democratic Union Party Leaders Meeting in London runs 10 and 11 November.