Backbenchers Tony Abbott and Kevin Andrews during question time earlier in the year. Photo: Alex EllinghausenBronwyn Bishop drops Tony Abbott bombshell
Former prime minister Tony Abbott is coming to Melbourne to help fundraise for a key conservative ally the day before Malcolm Turnbull is expected to visit the Governor-General to officially call the election.
In what is expected to be his first foray into election campaigning in Victoria, “the esteemed” Mr Abbott will address a fundraising dinner for Menzies MP Kevin Andrews and Deakin MP Michael Sukkar on Saturday night in Bulleen.
The $120-a-head black tie event at the Veneto Club is being hosted by the Menzies-Warrandyte Young Liberals, who are a new socially conservative branch of the party.
In March, Mr Abbott, now a backbencher, revealed that he would be campaign in marginal seats across the country, which caused a stir among some strategists who viewed his involvement as a distraction from the main campaign and could help Labor by reopening old wounds.
“My main focus will be campaigning in Warringah but I will also support the election of the Turnbull government by campaigning with my colleagues in marginal seats where I’m asked to do so,” Mr Abbott said at the time.
Fairfax Media understands that the former prime minister has been asked by a number of Victorian MPs and candidates to assist during the campaign, and plans to be involved in a low key way.
Mr Sukkar is unlikely to attend the dinner.
While Menzies is a safe Liberal seat with a margin of 14.4 per cent, neighbouring Deakin which includes Ringwood is held by just 3.2 per cent and was won by Mr Sukkar at the 2013 election.
The invitation to the Liberal party fundraiser for Kevin Andrews, to be addressed by former PM Tony Abbott Photo: Supplied
The organisers of the fundraisers are a relatively new group of Liberals.
The Menzies-Warrandyte Young Liberals share Mr Andrews socially conservative views – he is an opponent of same sex marriage and abortion.
The group – members can be no older than 31 – hail from across Victoria and are not just local Menzies constituents.
Mr Abbott’s personal standing in Victoria has consistently been low and there were many in the state branch trying to keep the then prime minister at arms length during the unsuccessful 2014 state election.
The news came as Mr Abbott called on the mining industry to show its “gratitude” to retiring MP Ian McFarlane who was the resources minister who repealed the mining tax.
“I hope this sector will acknowledge and demonstrate their gratitude to him in his years of retirement from this place,” he told Parliament on Wednesday night.
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