first_imgLeader of the Opposition Tony Abbott has ruled out any change to Australia’s policy on the renaming of FYROM if he becomes prime minister. Speaking at an ethnic media conference in Melbourne on Thursday, in answer to a question from the FYROM diaspora press as to whether he would amend Australia’s position on the naming issue, Mr Abbott said unequivocally that he would continue to support the government’s current policy. In carefully chosen words, the Opposition Leader reiterated his support for the UN-brokered process which enshrines the need for agreement between Athens and Skopje over the renaming of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. “I am not proposing a change to the current situation,” said the Coalition leader. “While I can fully understand how passionate Australians of Greek or of Balkan heritage feel on these issues, I fully understand that… I certainly think it’s important for Australia to play an appropriate part in the resolution of all of these international disputes.” Mindful of the sensitivities of the subject, Mr Abbott said that Australia’s story of multiculturalism was a reminder to diaspora communities that perceived historical injustices and rivalries could and should be overcome. “One of the great things about life in Australia is that it tends over time to act as a solvent for the antagonisms and the passions of many parts of the world,” he said. “A few generations back a lot of Australians who got very exercised about the rights and wrongs of the situation in Ireland, and I have got to say there were lots of rights and wrongs, but the interesting thing about life in Australia is that people of English extraction [and] Irish extraction very quickly became Australians and discovered they had far more in common than they had dividing them.” Mr Abbott addressed Melbourne-based ethnic media at the Victorian Liberal Party’s headquarters and took the opportunity to introduce three federal Liberal candidates to the press – Ricardo Balancy, Emanuele Cicchiello and John Nguyen, who will contest the seats of Holt, Bruce and Chisholm respectively. The candidates, all of migrant backgrounds, were joined on the platform by Sophie Mirabella MP, Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry and Science, who Mr Abbott confirmed would be a cabinet minister if the Coalition is returned at the election. As Prime Minister Kevin Rudd addressed the National Press Club in Canberra, the Opposition Leader’s attention to Victoria’s ethnic media was well received. “I’m not here with the ethnic media, I’m here with elements of the Australian media,” he said in his opening remarks. “Modern Australia is a country of diversity and I’m very proud of that diversity.” Fielding questions on 457 visas, manufacturing, migration policy, polls and the economy, the Opposition Leader told the press conference that the fundamental task of an Australian prime minister was “to unite our people, to celebrate our diversity but at the same time to increase our unity”. “One of the saddest features of the current government has been the way it has from time to time tried to divide Australian from Australian for political reasons,” he said. “Former prime minister Julia Gillard tried to unleash a false class war, then there was the false gender war, and finally there was the war of native-born against overseas-born Australians, as symbolised by the government’s entirely unnecessary and unjustified crackdown on 457 visas.” Mr Abbott said that a Coalition government would seek to reduce cost-of-living pressures by abolishing the carbon tax and leaving carbon tax compensation benefits to low-income families and pensioners in place. “We can’t wave a magic wand and do something that would cause prices in the supermarket to fall, [but] we can abolish the carbon tax and that can at least take 10 per cent off your power bills and 9 per cent off your gas bills. “You lose the carbon tax, you keep the compensation and everyone should be better off.” Commenting on Kevin Rudd’s rise in personal popularity since reclaiming the prime ministership, Mr Abbott said: “Whatever Mr Rudd says, nothing much changes, in the end it’s all about Mr Rudd, that’s the problem. “As many of you know – because you are familiar with other countries and other cultures – the cult of the great leader [and] personality cults around politicians are wrong. They’re destructive and they should have no place in Australian politics.” Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more