Abbott: I'll revive Howard's golden age

Tony Abbott has promised to return Australia to the "golden age" of the Howard government under his "incoming Coalition government".

In a speech to the South Australian Liberal Party yesterday, the federal Opposition Leader emphasised the connection between the Coalition under his leadership and the government of John Howard, which was voted out in 2007 after 11 years.

The tradition of the Howard government would live on, Mr Abbott declared, in no small part because of the similarities between his frontbench and Mr Howard's ministerial team.

"Sixteen members of my frontbench were ministers in the Howard government," Mr Abbott said.

"We won't have to learn on the job because we have done the job before. There won't be questions about the judgment of an incoming Coalition government because an incoming Coalition government has shown good judgment in the past and that's where there is going to be such a contrast between an incoming Coalition government and the government that we currently have."

The number of former Howard government ministers on the frontbench could increase after the next election if Mal Brough, who served as the minister for indigenous affairs, is successful in his bid to return to federal politics.

Mr Abbott, who once described himself as the political love child of Mr Howard and the Liberal MP Bronwyn Bishop, has previously been criticised for the number of long-serving MPs he has kept on his frontbench at the expense of up-and-comers.

Many of the names mentioned as being at the forefront of the next generation of Liberal Party politicians were aides in the Howard government years, such as Kelly O'Dwyer and Josh Frydenberg.

Despite his sustained lead in the polls, Mr Abbott has stressed his team must remain disciplined and focused to win the next election, due in the second half of next year.

Mr Abbott's vision for the next Coalition government, as outlined in his speech, made it seem as if the two terms of Labor government were no more than an inconvenient blip on the radar of political history.

Last week, the federal government all but reinstated the immigration policies of the Howard government, one of the most defining and controversial features of its time in office.

"If you want to get John Howard's results on border protection, you've got to show John Howard's resolve on border protection," Mr Abbott said.

"That's why the longer this government lasts, the better the Howard government looks and that's why the Howard government now looks like it created a golden age of prosperity, which is lost."

The story Abbott: I'll revive Howard's golden age first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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