Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is under tremendous pressure at home and also from his global partners to do more to combat climate change. The pressure has increased after new data from America’s space agency Nasa showed 2014 as the hottest year on record since 1880. Australia’s climate change stance also came under scrutiny at the recent G20 summit and Abbott’s efforts to exclude the subject of climate change from official discussions drew international criticism. The Labor Party and The Greens blame him for protecting mining interests against environment.
Dr Gillian Triggs, the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, released the Forgotten Children report last month about asylum seekers in Australia, which triggered an embarrassing situation for Abbott who described the report as “blatantly partisan” and declared he no longer had confidence in the commission’s president. The government tried to displace Dr Triggs from her position, an allegation that government has denied. The Senate has passed a motion declaring Attorney-General George Brandis “unfit to hold the office of Attorney-General” over the government’s criticism of Triggs. One senior Liberal called the performance “embarrassing”, and another described it as “the last straw” for Abbott’s leadership
Abbott came under attack from Muslim groups and was criticised by opposition and human rights groups after he announced his terrorism policy and targeted Muslim community leaders for not speaking clearly against extremists. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten contradicted him on the issue saying the Muslim community was “the front line with dealing with terrorism”. The leaders of the Muslim community also expressed fear that the new measures targeted Muslims who would be penalised for the crimes of few individuals. Greens leader Christine Milne said there was “no justification” for new proposed measures announced by the prime minister.
Abbott has been described as a “dead man walking” and many analysts believe it’s a matter of time before he faces another challenge to his leadership. Last month’s leadership spill was a close call that he described as a near-death experience. There are challengers in his own fold who are staying loyal for now, but watching him carefully. He is far behind in polls against possible contenders and his backbench MPs are weighing who would get them through in next year’s federal elections. A senior Canberra insider expects a leadership spill in July or August.