Abbott: Stop swopping PMs 'like changing clothes'

Mr Tony Abbott (left) was replaced by Mr Malcolm Turnbull in a "party-room coup" by ruling Liberal Party lawmakers earlier this month.
Mr Tony Abbott (above) was replaced by Mr Malcolm Turnbull in a "party-room coup" by ruling Liberal Party lawmakers earlier this month.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
Mr Tony Abbott (left) was replaced by Mr Malcolm Turnbull in a "party-room coup" by ruling Liberal Party lawmakers earlier this month.
Mr Tony Abbott was replaced by Mr Malcolm Turnbull (above) in a "party-room coup" by ruling Liberal Party lawmakers earlier this month.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

SYDNEY • Toppled Australian leader Tony Abbott has taken potshots at his successor's government, in his first radio interview since being ousted, saying it offered no new policies and that the nation should stop swopping prime ministers "like changing clothes".

Mr Abbott was replaced by Mr Malcolm Turnbull in a vote among ruling Liberal Party lawmakers earlier this month, as opinion polls on the former PM's government plunged two years into office and with an election about a year away.

At the time, he vowed there would be "no undermining and no sniping" as he moved to the backbenches, but Mr Abbott could not hold back from defending his legacy in an interview with a Sydney commercial station yesterday.

"The interesting thing is no policy has changed since the change of the prime minister," he said.

"Climate change, the same. Border protection policy, the same. National security policy, the same," he said, referring to hot-button issues.

Mr Abbott's political demise is the latest brutal dumping of an unpopular PM - Labor leaders Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard were similarly ousted mid-term.

"We've had five prime ministers in five years. That's bad. That puts us in the league of Italy and Greece," said Mr Abbott, the only Australian prime minister to come to power through a general election in the past half-decade.

"The difficulty... is that government can't do what is necessary for the long-term good of our country if you are subject to death by polls and then ultimately a party-room coup," he told 2GB radio, famous for its right-wing talkback hosts.

Australia had to "get right away from this concept of changing the leader like you might change your clothes to suit the fashion", he said.

But Mr Abbott urged the party and voters to support the government, even reluctantly, as it prepares for elections in 2016.

"Even if they have to do it through gritted teeth, support the coalition, support the prime minister, support the government," the former leader said.

Mr Abbott reassured listeners that his mental state was good, saying he knew politics was "a pretty brutal business". The 57-year-old said he was "too young to retire" and would remain in Parliament.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2015, with the headline 'Abbott: Stop swopping PMs 'like changing clothes''. Print Edition | Subscribe