Australia PM Abbott rebukes ministers over Cabinet leaks

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has reprimanded his ministers after proposals made during Cabinet discussions were leaked to the media before he announced it. -- PHOTO: EPA 
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has reprimanded his ministers after proposals made during Cabinet discussions were leaked to the media before he announced it. -- PHOTO: EPA 

SYDNEY - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has given ministers a dressing down over Cabinet leaks describing it as a "come to Jesus moment" for senior officials, AFP reported.

According to The Australian newspaper, Mr Abbott had raised the "bad leaks" in a Cabinet meeting on Monday, citing his disappointment over the leaks amid internal differences on plans to strip citizenship rights from suspected terrorists, The Australian reported.

Members of Parliament at the meeting said Mr Abbott made clear he had "read the riot act" to the Cabinet in the Monday meeting and described the session as a "come to Jesus moment", after the proposals were leaked to the media before he announced them.

Details of him blasting his ministers were also leaked last Wednesday, with both the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Fairfax Media citing sources as saying staunch Catholic Abbott had spoken about it as a "come to Jesus moment".

One MP said he interpreted the "come to Jesus" comment to mean that ministers had "seen the light" about their actions while others said Mr Abbott was attempting to give his Cabinet an ultimatum that "you're either on the team or you ain't".

During the Monday meeting, Mr Abbott warned of "personal and political" consequences of divulging Cabinet discussions, without spelling out exactly what he meant, it was reported.

He sidestepped questions about the issue in Parliament on Tuesday, to howls of derision from Labor, with senior opposition figure Anthony Albanese saying the description of the Cabinet confrontation showed Abbott was "out of touch".

"You scratch your head and wonder how this guy ever got to the Lodge, with his three-word slogans," he said, referring to the prime minister's official residence in Canberra.

Mr Abbott has a history of using odd phrases and catchy slogans, once referring to the Syria conflict as "baddies versus baddies" while last year threatening to "shirtfront" Russian President Vladimir Putin.