Exclusive: former PM Tony Abbott talks Tangney, Ben Morton and Malcolm Turnbull


Family ties: Liberal Tangney hopeful Ben Morton received support from the former PM.
Family ties: Liberal Tangney hopeful Ben Morton received support from the former PM.

IN A whirlwind 24 hours, former prime minister and member for Warringah Tony Abbott swept through the seat of Tangney in a show of support for new candidate Ben Morton.

Spending the day among constituents in Brentwood and Mt Pleasant before attending the Riverton RSL for a meeting with the community, Mr Abbott said he got a sense people were happy with the current government.

“This campaign, as you’d expect in a very long campaign, has had sort of a slowish start. I think that there’s no mood to change the government and no enthusiasm for Bill Shorten so I’m expecting a result that’s not so much different from last time,” he said.

Addressing reports that Malcolm Turnbull supporters had lost faith in his style, Mr |Abbott said it was appropriate for prime ministers to take a more holistic style of leadership.

“Everyone is changed by the prime ministership, you become prime minister and you are suddenly conscious of your responsibilities to the nation and not just to a party or a faction,” he said.

“I think that probably explains why some people think Malcolm as Prime Minister has been a little bit different to Malcolm as minister or candidate.”

He said public office brought different expectations.

“It is right that the Prime Minister is conscious of his wider responsibilities, prime ministers don’t have the luxury of a private opinion, they have to speak for a nation,” he said.

“I think the public want (Malcolm Turnbull) to be the best possible Prime Minister and the best way he can be the Prime Minister is to express the continuity as well as the changes since September of last year.”

Mr Abbott said he was thrilled to be part of fellow Liberal candidates’ campaigns throughout the country, and marked Mr Morton as a sterling candidate.

“We’re a national party and we are one big extended family and we have to stick by each other,” he said.

“I’m happy to help with local campaigns elsewhere in the country where the candidate thinks I can be useful.

“Ben is a new candidate … and he was good enough to ask me for help and I am delighted to be here.”

Mr Abbott shrugged off recent polls where Labor pulled ahead of the Coalition on a two party preferred basis.

“Well the last major election, the UK election, the pollsters got it completely wrong and I think the fact that the pollsters were so wrong in Britain suggests the old adage about the only poll that counts is the one on election day is more important than usual,” he said.

“I don’t get any sense that people want to change the government and I certainly don’t get the sense people are that enthusiastic about the alternative.”