Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott at Rockhampton Girls Grammar School for an afternoon tea. Photo Sharyn O'Neill / The Morning Bulletin
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott at Rockhampton Girls Grammar School for an afternoon tea. Photo Sharyn O'Neill / The Morning Bulletin Sharyn O'Neill

Abbott would have 'died happy' after losing leadership

EVEN after being thrown out of his Prime Ministerial throne, Tony Abbott says he would still have "died happy" knowing that his government achieved great things while he was in power.

The former PM also defended his much-maligned chief of staff Peta Credlin, saying she was doing what was required, and those blaming her should instead be blaming him.

"If I'd been knocked over by a bus on the morning of the coup, I would have gone to the Pearly gates and given an upbeat assessment," Mr Abbott told Fairfax.

"I don't believe we could have done much more or much better than we did.

"There was an enormous amount of solid achievement."

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Stopping asylum-seeker boats, negotiating major international trade agreements and launching the royal commission into union corruption were his top successes.

A month before he was toppled, the Coalition trailed Labor as preferred party 46% to 54%.

After Mr Turbull took power, the polls immediately reversed with the Coalition on 53% to Labor's 47%.

Tony Abbott's chief of staff Peta Credlin
Tony Abbott's chief of staff Peta Credlin AAP Image - Lukas Coch

The Coalition had not been able to sneak ahead of Labor in the polls since April 2014 when Mr Abbott reinstated knights and dames, then knighted Queen Elizabeth's husband Prince Philip.

Mr Abbott told Fairfax his fall from the top job was caused by "well organised white-anting". 

His comments Treasurer Scott Morrison and Deputy Prime Minister Julie Bishop each confirming they discussed Mr Abbott's ousting in February, ahead of a spill that almost cost Mr Abbott his job.

Fairfax reported that Ms Bishop, Mr Morrison and then Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull discussed the formation of a team if Mr Abbott was overthrown.

It would have Ms Bishop as deputy leader and Mr Morrison as Treasurer. Ms Bishop and Mr Morrison denied these details, although all three landed in those positions following the dumping of Mr Abbott in September.

Mr Abbott said "99%" of the attacks on Ms Credlin were "distortion or fiction", and when ministers complained about her unpopular decisions, those were made by him, not Ms Credlin.



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