Tony Abbott Unplugged: He’s Out ‘Selling His Arse Again’, This Time On Climate Change



Tony Abbott is well known in Australia politics for being prepared to say or do almost anything in the pursuit of power. So says the man himself. But even by Abbott’s standards, his latest slip is off the charts. Chris Graham reports.

In 2010, Abbott was locked in negotiations with independents for the balance of power of parliament. One of those independents, Tony Windsor, subsequently recalled Abbott’s pitch for the top job.

Reports the Sydney Morning Herald: “The way Tony Windsor recalls it, Tony Abbott begged crossbench MPs to make him prime minister, joking ‘the only thing I wouldn’t do is sell my arse – but I’d have to give serious thought to it.’”

Once a homophobe, always a homophobe.

Nearly a decade later, Abbott is back out on the husting but this time he’s trying to save his seat of Warringah. But it seems he’s learned very little. While his pitch to voters is less crass, in political terms, it’s no less extraordinary or alarming.

Over to the Herald again, with a story published this morning by political editor Peter Hartcher.

“So what’s his 30-second pitch to voters?

“If you want to get the Beaches Link tunnel built, if you want your taxes kept low, if you want to keep your community safe, you’ve gotta vote Liberal. An independent in a Liberal seat brings a Labor government closer.”

This is the nub of his campaign – a vote for Zali Steggall is a vote for Bill Shorten.

But hold on, Tony. That’s not what Steggall says at all. She says that, if elected to the crossbench in a hung Parliament and has to decide which party to support to form government, she would favour the Coalition. Not Labor.

“She’s not said that in writing or with any degree of conviction,” Abbott counters in an interview at Hemingway’s Manly cafe.

“I don’t believe her, given that she’s said her biggest issue by far is climate change and Labor has a much better climate change policy than the Coalition.”

Which is actually true, Labor’s policy on climate change is better than the Liberals, but that’s a pretty remarkable concession from a Liberal Party member and former Prime Minister.

It’s also extraordinarily stupid, given that another Herald article just a week ago revealed that climate change and the environment were the top issues on the minds of Warringah voters.

Climate change policy has long vexed Abbott. While the herald was reporting how seriously Warringah voters felt about the issue, SBS was reporting that Abbott made a $100 bet with a constituent that the climate wouldn’t worsen over the next 10 years.

In the past, Abbott has called climate change “crap”, and also once remarked that “as the housewives of Australia do the ironing what they need to understand is” that a carbon tax will drive up their power bills.

Ironically, this dumbest comment yet, albeit his most honest one. On that front, we’ll leave you with this video of Tony Abbott Unplugged.

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. In more than three decades of journalism he's had his home and office raided by the Australian Federal Police; he's been arrested and briefly jailed in Israel; he's reported from a swag in Outback Australia on and off for years. Chris has worked across multiple mediums including print, radio and film. His proudest achievement is serving as an Associate producer on John Pilger's 2013 film Utopia. He's also won a few journalism awards along the way in both the US and Australia, including a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards. Since late 2021, Chris has been battling various serious heart and lung conditions. He's begun the process of quietly planning a "gentle exit" after "tying up a few loose ends" in 2024 and 2025. So watch this space.