'Independents could force election'

TONY Abbott has skirted around a suggestion that he could force a Federal election to be held now by moving a vote of no confidence in the Gillard Government on the floor of parliament next week.

Speaking at the opening of the Grove Juice plant in Warwick this morning, Mr Abbott was asked by media if he would consider the move, which could work in the Opposition's favour depending on which way sitting independents voted.

But Mr Abbott dodged the idea, saying it would be up to the independents to initiate such a move, adding that he had not been in contact with any of them since Kevin Rudd's shock resignation as foreign minister yesterday.

Earlier during his visit, an aide is understood to have passed Mr Abbott a slip of paper showing the current firm numbers of ALP federal members backing Ms Gillard and Mr Rudd, with 27 so far behind Mr Rudd and 18 backing Ms Gillard.

Mr Abbott used the press conference to further attack the ALP over its current leadership battle, saying Australia was being "laughed at" by the rest of the world.



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