question time tony abbott
(Image: AAP/Alan Porritt)

Australians have enjoyed the political gift that keeps on giving that is Tony Abbott for decades. Now, generously, we’re sharing him with the country of his birth.

For British readers unaware of the man who holds the dual titles of Australia’s greatest opposition leader and worst prime minister, Crikey is happy to present a short summary of Abbott’s contributions to public debate in his adopted country.

Climate change

“The argument is absolute crap.” December 2009 (one of many, many positions Abbott has taken on climate science, but the one that seems to accord most strongly with his actual beliefs).

“It seems that, notwithstanding the dramatic increases in manmade CO2 emissions over the last decade, the world’s warming has stopped.” December 2009

“At least so far, it’s climate change policy that’s doing harm. Climate change itself is probably doing good; or at least, more good than harm.” October 2017

Sexual assault

“There does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak.” March 2009


An objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience … Why isn’t the fact that 100,000 women choose to end their pregnancies regarded as a national tragedy?” March 2004


“There is no doubt that it challenges, if you like, orthodox notions of the right order of things.” March 2010

“I probably feel a bit threatened, as so many people do.” March 2010

Cervical cancer vaccine

“I won’t be rushing out to get my daughters vaccinated, maybe that’s because I’m a cruel, callow, callous, heartless bastard but, look, I won’t be.” November 2006


“It would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons.” 1970s

“If we’re honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband. Not withstanding all his or her faults, you find that he tends to do more good than harm.” July 2002

“While I think men and women are equal, they are also different and I think it’s inevitable and I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all that we always have, say, more women doing things like physiotherapy and an enormous number of women simply doing housework.” August 2010

Australian history

“Our country owes its existence to a form of foreign investment by the British government in the then unsettled or, um, scarcely settled, Great South Land.” July 2014


“I’ve often heard Western leaders describe Islam as a ‘religion of peace’. I wish more Muslim leaders would say that more often, and mean it.” February 2015

“Although most Muslims utterly reject terrorism, some are all too ready to justify ‘death to the infidel’.” December 2015

Public life and consultation

“Sometimes it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.” March 2010