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Tony Abbott gaffes

Peter Costello claimed in April 2013 that Tony Abbott has grown enormously over the last 3 years.1 Not so according to this list of Abbott gaffes since August 2010. It clearly demonstrates that Tony Abbott is no more fit to be PM or to represent Australia on the world stage now than he was three years ago. Between August 2010 and May 2013 Abbott insulted, offended or annoyed to varying degrees Africans, Irish, Indonesians, Chinese, Finns and Luxembourgers. Abbott has other baggage. His position on the Royal Commission into institutionalised child sexual abuse is unclear. His support of Cardinal Pell is well known. Less well known is that Abbott provided a reference at the sentencing hearing of former priest John Gerard Nestor. Nestors conviction was overturned on appeal (did Abbotts testimony play a part in that?). The church conducted its own enquiries and Nestor was later laicised.2 Compiled by choosing@ch150ch Please tweet information/links to other gaffes to @ch150ch Sources for gaffes can be found at the end of the document.

Aug 20103

Its the launch of Abbotts paid parental leave policy in the lead up to the 2010 election. Mums and toddlers are present. While commenting on the to-ing and fro-ing between him and then PM Gillard about the number of televised debates, Abbott uses wording associated with campaigns against rape to criticise Julia Gillard. "Are you suggesting to me that when it comes from Julia, 'No' doesn't mean 'No'." Abbott repeated this phrase a number of times. He later rejected suggestions that some women might find his comments offensive.

Aug 20104

Abbott offended thousands of people with disabilities by suggesting that discussions in parliament about accessibility were a waste of time. Abbott makes himself the butt of jokes after saying he would personally take the decision for asylum seeker boats to be turned around. Mr Abbott said the phone call from sea would come to him - on the boat phone - and it would be his choice whether or not to

Aug 20105

1 Last updated 28 June 2013. Arranged by month, may not be chronological within each

turn a boat back if it was safe to do so. The Daily Teles headline alluding to jokes about bat phones - was Holy asylum seekers! Tony Abbott to take charge of boat people hotline. Sept 20106 Abbott misread Andrew Wilkie during the post-election negotiations about which party the independents would support to form government. Wilkie rejected a billion dollar offer from Abbott to build a hospital, labelling it as over the top and irresponsible. Abbott turned down an offer by then PM Gillard to visit troops in Afghanistan with her on his way to UK. He said that he wanted to arrive fresh in the UK for meetings with the UK Conservative government which drew criticism from many, including the mother of a soldier who died in Afghanistan. She said of Abbott Its all about him. Abbott went to Afghanistan later in October. Despite him asking the ADF not to do so, photos of him firing machine guns were released. Neil Mitchell labelled him a dill, adding: He looks like a schoolboy playing with guns This is not a game. This is war and Australians have died. Guns are dangerous and our soldiers carry them to protect themselves. Tony Abbott didn't need a gun. Dec 20108 Feb 20119 At a press conference, Tony Abbott refers to NBN as essentially a video entertainment system. At the time of the QLD flood crisis, Abbott rejected then PM Gillards proposal for a flood levy, a decision seen by some Liberals as ''hamfisted and half-cocked''. To make it worse, on the day that cyclone Yasi bore down on North QLD, Abbott emailed Liberal party members to ask them for campaign contributions to fight ALPs proposed flood levy. Mark Riley interview with the bizarre sight of Abbott speechless and with his head nodding for an extended period of time after being asked about his shit happens remark in Afghanistan. Abbott, having called for a peoples revolt, was reluctant to address assembled crowds displaying signs saying Ditch the Witch and the like, for fear of being judged by keeping such company. But he did address them and has been judged accordingly. Abbott claimed he didnt see the worst of the signs but he was standing alongside them in some pics.

Oct 20107

Feb 201110

Mar 201111

April 201112 While in Whyalla, Abbott claims it will be wiped off the map by the introduction of carbon tax; and that it risks becoming a ghost town and an economic wasteland.

May 201113 Reports of tensions in the Liberal party, caused by Abbott making announcements that embarrassed and undermined Joe Hockey in the lead up to the budget and ending up with a slanging match between them. June 201114 NZ Prime Minister Key visited Australia and Abbott breaks convention by inserting domestic politics into his welcoming speech; he congratulated Key for ''dramatically watering down'' the emissions trading scheme the NZ government inherited. June 201115 Irelands ambassador to Australia and leading members of the Irish community complained after Abbott told a not very funny Irish joke during a speech. Prof Ronan McDonald, Chair in Modern Irish Studies at the University of New South Wales said The stupid Irish joke might get a laugh in a Bradford comedy club circa 1973, but seems astoundingly ill-judged coming from an aspiring world leader in 2011. Abbott apologised to the ambassador. July 201116 Abbott wins the Sans Science comment of the month award for his ignorant comments (he said much the same thing on different occasions) in relation to how CO2 emissions are calculated: Its actually pretty hard to do this because carbon dioxide is invisible and its weightless and you cant smell it. President Obama visits Canberra. Abbott makes a speech in parliament and cannot resist taking a swipe at the government rather than remain apolitical as per convention on such occasions. Some Liberal MPs were unhappy. 'We were squirming in our seats,' one said. Abbott jokes on radio Well, that was one boat that did get stopped, wasn't it about the Costa Concordia. Somewhat insensitive, as 11 people were dead and 21 people missing. He later apologises but qualifies it by saying ALP should recognise banter. Abbott apologises for saying in question time that then PM Gillard has a target on her forehead. Abbott is criticised for comments made following the death of Margaret Whitlam, aged 92 years old. He said she was a ''woman of style and substance'' and ''a marvellous consort to a very significant Labor leader and an epochal Australian prime ministerThere was a lot wrong with the Whitlam government but nevertheless, it was a very significant episode in our history. His comments were perceived as inappropriately scoring a political point, of being vindictive, and an affront to basic decency.

Nov 201117

Jan 201218

Mar 201219 Mar 201220

May 201221 When in WA, Abbott agrees with WA premier that WA gets too little of the GST pie. In response to outcry that ensues from elsewhere in the country, in particular Tasmania, he has to backtrack May 201222 Tony Abbott distinguishes himself by running out of parliament to avoid his vote being counted, after Craig Thomson he of the socalled tainted vote - indicated he would be voting with the Coalition. June 201223 Abbott says effect of carbon pricing will be a python squeeze rather than a cobra strike on the economy. This was of course utter nonsense as has become obvious over time, adding to the perception that what he says cant be believed. July 201224 Abbott makes a speech in China which is widely criticised. A Herald Sun article by Steve Price is headlined Abbotts visit like a bull in a china shop. It takes weeks of clarification to calm it down. Leigh Sales interview during which Abbott denied reading statement from BHP chief executive Marius Kloppers despite commenting on BHP, and falsely claiming that carbon tax was the reason BHP was reducing investments. Lisa Wilkinson interview where Abbott says then PM Gillard still has questions to answer on the AWU/Slater & Gordon issue from about 1995. He cant articulate any questions, didnt watch the marathon presser where Julia Gillard took questions for almost an hour and didnt read its transcript.

Aug 201225

Aug 201226

Sept 201227 Then PM Gillard was in New York attending UN meetings. On 2GB radio Abbott says our Prime Minister should not be swanning around in New York talking to Africans, she should be in Jakarta, right now, trying to sort out the border protection disaster. He named Indonesian President Yudhoyono as one of the people she should be talking with. Both the Indonesian President and his Foreign Minister were attending the same UN meeting in New York as Julia Gillard. Abbotts comments were offensive to African nations as well as plain stupid. Sept 201228 Abbott says what he offers the Australian people is a return to economic growth ignoring the fact that Australia has had 21 consecutive years of economic growth. Oct 201229 Australia wins a seat on UNs Security Council. Before the ballot Tony Abbott says "If Australia can't come first or second in a threehorse race involving Finland and Luxembourg, there's something wrong with usLet's face it, it shouldn't be too hard to win a race against Finland and Luxembourg." Hardly appropriate words for

someone seeking to represent Australia in international forums with world leaders. Oct 201230 In question time during a speech about Peter Slipper, Abbott says that the ALP government should be dying of shame, echoing Alan Jones widely condemned comment of the previous month that then PM Gillards father died of shame. Maybe not said purposely but if not, where is Abbotts presence of mind, acuity, that he used the phrase at all? Abbott demonstrates his inability to understand a WA electricity bill, claiming carbon price led to more than doubling of cost of electricity. It was obvious from a bar chart on the bill that the persons power usage had doubled. Visiting a family home in Indonesia, Abbott puts his foot, complete with shoe, on the table near a bowl of food. So rude its hard to know where to start: BODY LANGUAGE AND BEHAVIOR -Many western modes of behavior and body language are taboo in Indonesia. Be very aware of how you act in the presence of Indonesians in all situations. Some general rules to follow Never show the sole of your foot or point your toe at someone Keep both feet on the floor when sitting, don't cross your legs33 Nov 201234 Lisa Wilkinson interview where she challenges Abbott on his strident claims that he can bring power prices down. Soon becomes clear that hes repeating slogans about getting rid of carbon tax which would have minimal effect, and has no idea how to bring down power prices in any significant way. Abbott is understood to imply authentic Aboriginal people are those who live in the bush rather than elsewhere: "I think it would be terrific if, as well as having an urban Aboriginal in our parliament, we had an Aboriginal person from central Australia, an authentic representative of the ancient cultures of central Australia in the parliament". A reporter who was there said that he has been misrepresented which then begs the question - why did Abbott not express himself more clearly. Abbott endorses, defends, backs Mal Brough while admitting he has not read Justice Rares scathing findings about Brough. At an Australia Day Awards and Citizenship Ceremony in Adelaide, reading from a prepared speech, Abbott completely disregards and disrespects Indigenous people, by saying The first lot of Australians 5

Oct 201231

Oct 201232

Nov 201235

Dec 201236 Jan 201337

were chosen by the finest judges in England, not always for good reasons. Feb 201338 Abbott was at a press conference at Salvation Army premises in Brisbane, praising the good work of organisations like the Salvation Army. In response to media questions he took the opportunity to put the boot in to asylum seekers, vilifying them, even though they are one of the groups the Salvos assist. Being apolitical and unlikely to comment, one can only assume that the Salvos did not appreciate being associated with such sentiments. Abbott talks about Coalition policy and GETS IT WRONG! (Sorry for shouting.) At 55 seconds, he says I couldnt put a strict time frame on abolishing the health insurance rebate. The policy is to restore it. The official transcript of the presser was doctored so there is no record of his mistake. Does he know his own policies? Abbott claims the GFC finished 4 years ago, as US and Europe struggle to recover, and Cyprus experiences a banking crisis Hamish McDonald interview, Channel Ten late news. Abbott says he does not do deals, seemingly forgetting the 17 days of negotiation with independents following the 2010 election. Tony Abbott was heckled at Forced Adoption apology for using terms some find offensive, such as birth mothers and relinquish. If he had read first few pages of Senate Report he would have known that. Interviewed by Sabra Lane the next day he didnt acknowledge he was at fault in any way. His words: it was quite an emotional group in Parliament House yesterday. As he did almost a year ago, Abbott tells WA one thing about its allocation of GST and tells Tasmania another. Maybe this time hes overreached as theres an article in the Daily Tele calling him out on lying. But that doesn't mean that he should get away with telling porkies on the campaign trail and he tells people what they want to hear. April 201344 When asked about proposed changes to superannuation, Abbott said ...it shows that this is a Government which is prepared to tax the people to fund its own spending. Maybe Abbott has not understood to this point that governments collect taxes to fund their spending. Why else would there be taxes? April 201345 At the joint press conference with Malcolm Turnbull announcing Coalition broadband policy, Abbott said at 25 megs, you can simultaneously be downloading four HD TV programmes. So you can have four people in four different parts of the standard house 6

Feb 201339

Mar 201340 Mar 201341

Mar 201342

Mar 201343

watching the sport, a movie, whatever you might be doing. So we are absolutely confident that 25 megs is going to be enough, more than enough, for the average household. His comments were met with ridicule as exampled by these tweets on same day. @z3n_: Abbott said you can download 4 HD movies on the Coalitions broadband policy at same timeMoron never said it would take 200+ hrs @zackster: Just told my colleagues in the office about @TonyAbbottMHR and 4 HDTV movies over 25mps... everyone burst out laughing #fraudband April 201346 Abbotts statements about returning asylum seeker boats to Indonesia have drawn strong criticism from Indonesian authorities, again indicating that Abbott is not equipped to deal with international affairs. Mahfudz Siddiq, the head of Indonesia's parliamentary commission for foreign affairs, said Mr Abbott's comments demonstrated that the opposition leader "doesn't understand the problemThis kind of opinion disrespects the talks we have already had which have been very productive. With wrong perception, even Indonesia could pull out from these cooperative agreements regarding people smuggling," Mahfudz told AAP. April 201347 An asylum seeker boat carrying 66 Tamils arrived at Geraldton, WA. Two weeks later Abbott was in Perth with local MP Michael Keenan. He unveiled a billboard asking the question How many illegal boats have arrived since Labor took over? Below was the answer 639 illegal boats. This sparked widespread condemnation. The billboard was vandalised overnight 639 was changed to zero and a sentence added that it was no crime to seek asylum. It also inspired numerous spoof billboards eg How many times do you need to tell racists there is nothing illegal about seeking asylum? How many lies has Abbott told in the last year? and tweets such as If Abbott cant control billboards, how can he control borders. The billboard was taken down within 24 hours. May 201348 Alan Jones of 2GB is supporting farmers by campaigning against coal seam gas. On his program, Abbott indicated that if he was PM he would intervene to help farmers. This brought a complaint from

the industry that Abbott was supporting Jones rather than energy development. Opposition resources spokesman Ian McFarlane clarified that this was a state issue. Two years ago, Abbott made similar comments defending farmers against energy developers which (a) ignored federal/state split of responsibilities and (b) required later clarification. May 201349 Abbott says in relation to his paid parental leave policy "We do not educate women to higher degree level to deny them a careerIf we want women of that calibre to have families, and we should, well we have to give them a fair dinkum chance to do so. That is what this scheme of paid parental leave is all about." Abbotts comments, described by some as patronising and insensitive, raise questions yet again about his views on women, especially those who may not be well-paid and/or well-educated. They trigger a new hashtag #womenofcalibre. His poor choice of words meant that the ensuing debate focused on Abbotts attitudes rather than the merits or otherwise of the policy. May 201350 Abbott, while announcing the Coalitions industrial relations policy, said that he understood and respected unionists. He also said I ask the people of Australia, the workers of Australia, the unionists of Australia to look at my record as a Minister in this area. Why did Abbott draw attention to what he did ten years ago? Within 24 hours a 2010 article written by then-Assistant Secretary of the ACTU was linked to via social media. The article summarised decisions taken by Abbott between 2001 and 2003 when he was Minister for Workplace Relations which were distinctly anti-worker and anti-union. May 201351 A gaffe or not a gaffe? On the eve of budget day Abbott, accompanied by Joe Hockey and Jamie Briggs, addressed the media to draw attention to what he described as a significant book - The Little Book of Big Labor Waste. I felt embarrassed for him as he held up what looked like a childrens book with BIG writ large on the cover. Was this the best Abbott could do on the day before the government brought down a budget for a trillion dollar economy? Despite what seemed to be a well-attended Canberra press conference at which the book was spruiked, there has been little media coverage of it and it appears that Abbott and co are no longer waving the book around. May 201352 Abbott confirmed in writing to the government Coalition support for reforms to taxpayer funding of political campaigns. As the bills were 8

about to be introduced into parliament, his backbenchers objected and Abbott withdrew his support. Abbott first claimed that he had never committed to the reforms and had not seen the legislation. ALP then released a letter dated the previous week in which Abbott wrote that he was satisfied with the agreement reached between the two major parties. Only a few senior Liberals were aware of the agreement. Then, when news of the secretly negotiated agreement was announced at the beginning of the week, Abbott's office has misled and obfuscated. Abbotts initial response was to lie until caught out. The fact that the alternative prime minister openly pretended to be uninvolved, and then simply reneged on a signed agreement, raises genuine questions of trust and reliability." June 201353 Abbott addresses a small forum in Nowra in support of the local Liberal candidate and takes questions from the floor. When asked a question about local roads and rail, he responds Well, in the case of the Federal Government we are going to have this organisation, Infrastructure Australia, which will do its best to rationally and as scientifically as you can look at various infrastructure projects and rank the best on public cost benefit - then all levels of governments will be able to fund what they choose to be the one that makes most sense. He fails to say that Infrastructure Australia was introduced in 2008 by the ALP government and already does exactly that. This may not be a gaffe but a Coalition tactic. In a letter to voters a local candidate claims that under a Coalition government, age pensions will increase. He was in fact referring to twice yearly increases which would occur whichever government is in power. 54


2 http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/abbott-criticised-for-supportingpriest-20130324-2gnjm.html Full transcript of Abbotts evidence http://www.twitlonger.com/show/kvg3gc and more details of the alleged offences http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1rjd58i http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/abbott-trips-at-paid-parentalleave-launch-with-no-gaffe/story-fn59niix-1225900540259

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-08-03/abbott-defends-no-means-noremark/930874 http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/specials/election/tony-abbotts-gaffe-offendsdisabled/story-fn5zm695-1225899741112

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/holy-asylum-seekers-tony-abbott-to-takecharge-of-boat-people-hotline/story-e6frf7jo-1225905662308 6 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/wilkie-rejects-abbotts-hospitaloffer-of-1bn/story-fn59niix-1225913517932


http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/defence/footage-of-tony-abbottfiring-a-machine-gun-in-afghanistan-has-been-released/storye6frg8yo-1225938787004 http://www.liberal.org.au/latest-news/2010/12/20/tony-abbott-joint-pressconference-malcolm-turnbull-transcript

9 10 11




13 http://www.news.com.au/national-news/hockey-abbott-in-brutal-slangingmatch/story-e6frfkw9-1226060403060 http://www.maroondahweekly.com.au/story/939929/abbott-earns-reprimandfor-speaking-out-of-school/







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http://www.news.com.au/national-news/tony-abbott-says-carbon-tax-likepython-squeeze-rather-than-cobra-strike/story-e6frfkvr-1226383009896 http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/another-gotcha-moment-for-gunslingerabbott-20120924-26hi3.html

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXhbg80E2JE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzM8sHGrJDM


http://tonyabbott.com.au/News/tabid/94/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/8895/Pres s-Conference-Parliament-House-Canberra.aspx http://www.crikey.com.au/2012/09/28/get-fact-will-abbotts-formula-deliver-jobsand-growth/ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-10-18/abbott-on-un-security-councilbid/4320110


http://www.afr.com/p/opinion/labor_un_triumph_leaves_abbott_to_7TUjbxOgVgfZ9f Awvt965J http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/died-of-shame-focus-on-abbottsuse-of-controversial-phrase-20121010-27cgd.html


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In case tweet deleted, also at http://turnleft2013.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/tonyabbott-shows-indonesians-his-leadership-style/ 33 http://www.aiccusa.org/culturaltips.html#Bodylanguage http://www.liberal.org.au/latest-news/2012/11/09/tony-abbott-transcriptinterview-lisa-wilkinson-today-show

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http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-12-19/abbott-stands-by-brough-despite-notreading-ashby-judgment/4435478 37 http://www.tonyabbott.com.au/News/tabid/94/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/904 1/Remarks-at-City-of-Holdfast-Bay-Australia-Day-Awards-and-CitizenshipCeremony-Adelaide.aspx 38 http://www.tonyabbott.com.au/LatestNews/InterviewTranscripts/tabid/85/articleTyp e/ArticleView/articleId/9082/Joint-Doorstop-Interview-Brisbane.aspx http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=rWgGnTzCJIo&list=UU2ja1o7Qo96CKFlbaXyw_ag 40 http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/gfc-not-over-gillard-remindsabbott-20130320-2gfmu.html

39 41 42

Listen from 9 minutes in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zkd6NxQXTWg

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/we-apologise-pm-tells-victimsof-forced-adoptions/story-fn59niix-1226602391941 Senate report: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees? url=clac_ctte/completed_inquiries/201013/comm_contrib_former_forced_adoption/report/index.htm Sabra Lane interview: http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2013/s3721235.htm


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http://www.tonyabbott.com.au/LatestNews/InterviewTranscripts/tabid/85/articleTyp e/ArticleView/articleId/9141/Joint-Press-Conference-Sydney.aspx http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/national/16637686/coalition-nbn-policy-is-alemon-critics/ http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/abbott-on-collision-course-withjakarta-20130422-2iacp.html

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http://www.news.com.au/national-news/tony-abbott-heckled-in-perth-about-illegalarrivals/story-fncynjr2-1226625996801 http://tonysbillboards.tumblr.com http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/federal-election/tony-abbotts-comments-on2gb-force-coalition-to-clarify-coal-seam-gas-policy/story-fnho52jp-1226634209814




http://www.tonyabbott.com.au/News/tabid/94/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/918 2/Joint-Press-Conference-Sydney.aspx http://community.securejobs.org.au/Blogs/RAW-News/July-2010/Does-Tony-Abbottever-side-with-workers-.aspx http://blogs.crikey.com.au/liticism/2013/05/13/tony-abbott-ebookauthor/#comments


http://www.tonyabbott.com.au/LatestNews/InterviewTranscripts/tabid/85/articleTyp e/ArticleView/articleId/9184/Joint-Press-Conference-Parliament-HouseCanberra.aspx https://twitter.com/KieraGorden/status/334554767344926721/photo/1/large


http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-30/funding-deal-in-tatters-as-abbottchanges-his-mind/4722312 http://www.southcoastregister.com.au/story/1572751/abbott-show-rolls-intotown/

http://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/about/ I received such a letter and contacted candidate to check what was meant as no such policy announcement.