After hours of avoiding the media spotlight following his loss to Malcolm Turnbull last night, Tony Abbott emerged today to criticise the media and "white-anting" by unnamed colleagues in his final speech as prime minister, demanding an end to anonymous backgrounding and a "febrile media culture" of comment and polling, focused on "sour, bitter, character assassination".

In a short statement made after a morning during which his whereabouts and actions were unclear, the outgoing prime minister declared himself proud of a series of achievements -- more jobs, axing the carbon price and mining tax, free trade agreements, infrastructure spending, the trade union royal commission, the response to Islamic State and stopping asylum seeker boats. But he saved some harsh words for the media, calling on them to "refuse to print self-serving claims that the person making them won't put his or her name to. Refuse to connive at dishonour by acting as the assassin's knife."