Tony Abbott sworn in as Australia prime minister

 

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott in 90 seconds

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Tony Abbott has been sworn in as Australia's prime minister, days after his Liberal-National coalition ended six years of Labor government.

Mr Abbott, 55, took the oath at Government House in Canberra in front of Governor-General Quentin Bryce.

His conservative coalition won a comfortable lower house majority in the 7 September polls.

It plans to scrap a tax on carbon emissions introduced by Labor and further toughen asylum policy.

Ahead of Wednesday's ceremony, Mr Abbott said his government would get to work immediately.

"Today is not just a ceremonial day, it's an action day," he said. "The Australian people expect us to get straight down to business and that's exactly what this government will do."

The new ministers were also being sworn in during the day. His 19-member cabinet line-up has caused debate because it contains only one woman, new Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Mr Abbott, however, says his cabinet is "one of the most experienced incoming ministries in our history".

'Stop the boats'

The new prime minister said on Tuesday that the carbon tax would be his first task.

Tony Abbott

  • Leader of Liberal Party and Liberal-National coalition
  • Born 1957 in UK to Australian parents
  • Former student boxer and Catholic priest trainee
  • Economics and law graduate and Rhodes scholar
  • Held employment, and health and ageing portfolios under Howard government
  • Took over flagging Liberal-National coalition in December 2009
  • Pledges to repeal mining and carbon taxes, and give mothers up to 26 weeks leave, on full pay

"As soon as I return to Parliament House from the swearing-in ceremony, I will instruct the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to prepare the carbon tax repeal legislation," he said in a statement.

He says the carbon tax - which makes Australia's biggest polluters pay for emissions over a certain amount - cost jobs and forced energy prices up.

Instead of the tax, he plans to introduce a "direct action" plan under which subsidies will be given to farmers and businesses to reduce their emissions.

The position of science minister and a fund providing loans for green technologies are to be scrapped. Two official bodies related to climate change are also expected to be closed, local reports say.

The moves that has prompted criticism from Australia's chief scientist, Professor Ian Chubb. "These sorts of issues are not going away just because we ignore them," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The new prime minister also says tough new policies to end the flow of asylum-seekers arriving in Australia via Indonesia will come into effect today.

Under a Labor policy, all asylum-seekers arriving by boat are being sent to Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement if found to be refugees.

Mr Abbott is maintaining this policy and has promised to "stop the boats" - turning them back to Indonesia where safe to do so, a policy over which Indonesia has voiced concern.

He is expected to place the deputy chief of the army in charge of combating people smugglers, and his government will also restrict refugees already in Australia to temporary protection visas which must be regularly renewed.

Rights groups have criticised both the previous and incoming governments' policies on asylum.

But - with some votes still to be counted from the 7 September election - it appears that the coalition will not control the Senate, meaning it may struggle to pass key legislation.

It is expected that the new government will have to work with several minor parties to get bills passed in the upper house.

The Labor Party, meanwhile, is in the process of choosing a new leader, with both former deputy prime minister Anthony Albanese and powerbroker Bill Shorten vying to replace Kevin Rudd, who is stepping down.

 

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  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 72.

    Is Australia a forward or backward looking nation? Well, they've just elected a government and a Prime Minister who, as one of his first acts, has abolished the post of Science Minister. I think that gives us a clue.

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 70.

    I am envious of Australia having such a sensible leader. Scrapping all the 'Climate Change' departments and initiatives and scrapping the very silly carbon tax are just what is required as they were all a waste of money and served no purpose at all.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 35.

    This mans policies are scary to say the least.
    I did not realise that our australian cousins were so nasty. Scrapping any real attempts to lower carbon emissions, putting the army in charge of immigration and more.

    I'm glad I never completed my visa application if this is what Aussies want in power.

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 27.

    I spoke with a Aussie friend living in Sydney. Said Aussies vote a government out not in. That speaks volumes about the state of Politics in Australia.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 11.

    I think his stop the boats mentality is sending the right message stopping a trickle turning into a flood and its hit a cord with voters yes i know it sounds racist but its a discussion that needs to take place plus Labour did themselves no favours with their in fighting

 
 

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