Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he taked full responsibilty for his government’s poor election result which will most likely be a hung parliament, but he intends now to “get on and govern”.
He also admitted his party needs to be more convincing about its position on Medicare while saying responsibility for the re-rise of Pauline Hanson lay with Queensland voters, not him.
Facing media on Tuesday as vote counting resumed, he said while disappointing, the Coalition must and will accept the result.
“I want to make it quite clear that as prime minister and leader of the Liberal party, I take full responsibility for our campaign, absolutely full responsibility for the campaign,” he said.
“The Australian people have voted, and we respect the result. The actual settlement of the decisions with respect to particular seats obviously awaits the conclusion of the count which is very close. It will be a few more days before we get a clearer picture.”
Mr Turnbull countered that it was not just his party that voters had lost faith in, pointing out that Labor’s own primary vote was its second lowest in electoral history.
“There is no doubt that there is a level of disillusionment with politics, with government, and with the major parties. Our own included,” he said.
“We note that. We respect it. Now, we need to listen very carefully to the concerns of the Australian people expressed through this election.”
The prime minister admitted that his party had failed to effectively deal with the so-called ‘Mediscare’ privatisation accusations made by Labor during the campaign which proved so effective, but insisted the strategy was “a shocking lie”.
“But a fact that significant numbers of people believed it or at least believed it enough to change their vote, tells us that we have work to do and we are committed to that,” he said.
“That is a very clear lesson. We have to do more to re-affirm the faith of the Australian people in our commitment to health and to Medicare.”
Mr Turnbull stuck hard to his defence of the decision to call a double-dissolution election, reisiting blame for the re-emergence of Pauline Hanson to parliament.
“The reason that Pauline Hanson is elected to the Senate is because a large number of Queenslanders voted for her,” he said bluntly.
“The reason we had a double dissolution election was not related to the composition of the Senate, it is the only way we could get the passage of the Australian Building and Construction Commission legislation and the registered organisation legislation.”
When asked by a reporter who might be to blame for the Coalition’s disappointing result, the prime minister said he was not for “wallowing in blame and recriminations”.
Rather, he wanted to “get on and govern”.
“We’ve had a campaign. We fought hard, we presented a powerful case,” he said.
“But my job as the leader now, as the prime minister now, is to get on and govern, form the government with the parliament as it is presented by the people, and get on and advance the interests of 24 million Australians who it is our duty to serve.”
The prime minister was flanked by his deputy, Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, in a show of unity, saying the Coalition was “back at work”.
“We are at work not in some form of retribution or reminiscence,”he said.
“What we’re doing is thinking about the future. We’re thinking about the future and where this nation goes next and how we best serve this nation.”
Meanwhile, opposition leader Bill Shorten, who on Monday had called on Mr Turnbull to resign, today appeared to call on the prime minister to form a government.
“He now needs to genuinely concentrate on making the 45th parliament work,” Mr Shorten said, adding that he doesn’t wish to see another snap election.
“Mr Turnbull may be tempted to say this is all too hard and he will go to an early election and put himself first but not the nation. Australians expect us all to genuinely work together on the issues we agree upon,” he said.
IMAGE: (Still, so far) Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce address the media during a press conference in Sydney on July 5, 2016 (By WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)