Australia

Turnbull rejects Abbott's 'running on my record' claims

Malcolm Turnbull (left) Tony Abbott (right) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has seized on the exchange, using it as an opportunity to highlight the "clear bitterness" between the pair

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull has rejected claims from his predecessor Tony Abbott that the next election will be run on Mr Abbott's record.

Mr Turnbull has said he will call an early election in July if the Senate fails to pass blocked legislation.

Mr Abbott, who was ousted by Mr Turnbull, has praised the PM's "brinkmanship" but said key policies had not changed since he took over.

But Mr Turnbull said there had been both "continuity and change".

He pointed to new Senate voting reforms passed on Friday, media law changes, his commitment to small business protections and an innovation agenda.

"There are many policies that have been announced and many initiatives that have been undertaken that were either not policies or not being pursued by Mr Abbott," Mr Turnbull told the Australian Broadcasting Corp on Tuesday.

'Very enthusiastic supporter'

Tony Abbott was removed as Liberal party leader last year and replaced by the man he had previously deposed in 2009.

He told Sky News Australia from London on Monday that the current prime minister will seek election by promoting border security, free trade, national security and workplace relations policy.

"There are some changes but fundamentally the Turnbull government is seeking election on the record of the Abbott government," he said.

"'It's very easy for me to campaign for the Turnbull government because the Turnbull government is running on the record of the Abbott government, and that makes me a very enthusiastic supporter."

On Monday, Mr Turnbull announced that an early election slated for 2 July would be called if the Senate failed to pass two labour reform bills in the coming weeks.

Mr Turnbull said the bills, which deal with the role of construction unions, were critical for the economy, but opponents say they are unfair.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten seized on the exchange between Mr Abbott and Mr Turnbull, using it as an opportunity to highlight the "clear bitterness" between the pair.

"The truth is 80% of the laws which Mr Turnbull has in parliament were designed by Mr Abbott," Mr Shorten told local media.

"It doesn't matter who is in charge of the Liberal Party, be it Mr Abbott, or Mr Turnbull, it is all continuity with no change."

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