OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has ruled out a centre-right party merger across Australia after the Liberal National Party’s (LNP) historic election victory in Queensland.
Nanjing Night Net

The Coalition leader was in campaign mood when he visited Colac at the weekend, claiming that the relationship between Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Corangamite MP Darren Cheeseman was irreparably damaged.

While Mr Abbott drew comparisons between the public mood in Queensland compared with wider Australia over the carbon tax, he believed a Liberal-National party merger was not on the cards at a federal level.

“The LNP is terrific for Queensland, but what’s good for Queensland is not necessarily workable across the rest of Australia,” Mr Abbott said.

“We have a very effective Coalition in Canberra.”

The Liberal and National Party’s merged in Queensland four years ago after a string of disappointing state election results, despite the opposition of some, including former PM John Howard.

Saturday night’s LNP victory in Queensland represents one of the largest state election victories, reducing the state’s Labor Party to less than a cricket team.

Meanwhile, Mr Abbott claimed the Prime Minister would face further internal party instability after the devastating Queensland Labor loss.

He said Mr Cheeseman’s preselection as Corangamite’s Labor candidate was not guaranteed, or was Ms Gillard’s hold on the party’s top job.

Mr Cheeseman was one of 31 MPs to support former PM Kevin Rudd in his ill-fated quest to return to The Lodge in February.

“Plainly, Darren Cheeseman has a big problem,” Mr Abbott said.

“He was one of the first people to publicly call for Kevin Rudd to return to the prime ministership.

“Darren Cheeseman does not have the trust of the Prime Minister.

“If he does not believe Julia Gillard should be prime minister, then why would any Australian believe it?”

Saturday’s visit is the third time Mr Abbott has campaigned in Colac since the 2010 federal election, one of the major centres of the ultra-marginal Corangamite constituency.

Labor holds the south-west seat on a paper-thin majority after a close contest between Mr Cheeseman and Liberal candidate Sarah Henderson at the last national poll.

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