By Angela Dorizas
Tony Abbott has been elected Opposition Leader after winning the Liberal leadership spill by one vote.
Mr Abbott defeated Malcolm Turnbull in a final ballot by 42 to 41.
Joe Hockey was eliminated in the first ballot, with Mr Abbott polling 35 votes, Mr Turnbull 26 votes and Mr Hockey 23 votes.
Victorian MP Fran Bailey was given a leave of absence from the meeting and did not vote on the leadership. An informal vote from one party member helped secure Mr Abbott’s victory.
Upon winning the leadership, Mr Abbott called a secret ballot on the emissions trading scheme (ETS).
A motion to delay the ETS legislation by three months and refer it to a Senate committee was carried by 54 votes to 29. Mr Abbott said if the Government should reject a committee referral, the Opposition would defeat the ETS bill in the Senate.
Defeat or delay of the ETS would serve as a trigger for a double dissolution, but Mr Abbott said he was not afraid of an early election on climate change.
“As far as many, many millions of Australians are concerned, what the Rudd Government ETS looks like is a great big tax to create a great big slush fund to create politicised handouts run by a great big bureaucracy,” he said.
Mr Abbott told reporters his party was committed to reducing carbon emissions but “not this ETS at this time”.
“There is no point bringing in an ETS before it has become an established part of the world economy,” he said.
Mr Abbott conceded that the next election would be a “tough fight” for the Liberal party.
“As leader I am not frightened by an election on this issue,” he said.
“I cannot promise victory…but I can promise a contest. It will be a good contest, a clean contest.”
Mr Abbott said there were wounds within the party that needed to be healed.
“I do feel humbled and daunted by what’s ahead but I also feel proud and exhilarated at the prospect of leading this great Liberal Party,” he said.
“I will do my best to be a consultative and collegial leader.”
Mr Abbott invited Mr Hockey to continue to serve as shadow treasurer. He said Julie Bishop would remain as deputy leader.
Mr Turnbull said he was disappointed by the party’s “dramatic change in policy”, but congratulated Mr Abbott on his succession.
“He has a very big challenge ahead of him,” Mr Turnbull said.
He said he would not seek a position in shadow cabinet, but would move to the backbench.
“There will not be a byelection in Wentworth,” he added.
Mr Turnbull said he would consult with his family before deciding on whether to run for re-election.
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