Tony Abbott: 10 controversial things former Australian PM has said


The decision to appoint ex-Australian prime minister Tony Abbott as a senior trade advisor to the UK government has sparked controversy.

Mr Abbott has been accused of sexism and homophobia over a string of “offensive” comments made throughout his political career.

The 62-year-old has also made contentious claims about climate change, refugees and the coronavirus crisis, which led equality campaigners and opposition MPs to demand Boris Johnson block his new appointment this week.

But on Friday he was made a member of the UK Board of Trade and will advise the government on its post-Brexit strategy.

Here, Sky News looks back at 10 of the former Australian PM’s most divisive quotes.

Homosexuality is ‘threatening’

In 2010, when asked about his views on homosexuality, Mr Abbott said: “I probably feel a bit threatened, as so many people do.” He also said it “challenges the orthodox notions of the right order of things” and campaigned against same-sex marriage.

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Abortion ‘the easy way out’

When discussing abortion rates in Australia in 2004, he described a woman’s choice to end a pregnancy as “the easy way out”.

Men more suited to lead

He said that men are suited to leadership roles as they are “by physiology or temperament more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command”.

Former Australian PM Tony Abbott meeting Boris Johnson
Former Australian PM Tony Abbott is pictured with Boris Johnson

Climate change ‘probably doing good’

Speaking in 2009 he said he is “hugely unconvinced” by the science on climate change.

He previously said global warming is “probably doing good” and likened environmental policies to “primitive people once killing goats to appease the volcano gods”.

‘Nature should take its course’ with elderly COVID victims

Mr Abbott suggested that coronavirus lockdowns come at too high a price and that people should be allowed to choose to “let nature take its course” if their elderly relatives get COVID-19.

‘War’ on migrant boats

In 2014, he compared efforts to reduce the number of asylum seekers trying to reach Australia by boat to a “war”, sparking criticism.

Islam: ‘Cultures are not all equal’

In a speech about Islam in 2015, he said that “cultures are not all equal” and that Australians should be “ready to proclaim the clear superiority of our culture to one that justifies killing people in the name of God”.

Female candidate’s ‘sex appeal’

During the 2014 election campaign, he described a female opposition candidate as “feisty” and said she had “a bit of sex appeal”.

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Aboriginal communities are result of ‘lifestyle choice’

In 2015, he backed a plan to shut down 150 Aboriginal communities in western Australia.

His claims that taxpayers can’t be expected to “fund the lifestyle choices” of the country’s indigenous communities were branded racist.

‘Holocaust of job losses’

During Prime Minister’s Question Time in 2015, he said a decision to buy submarines from outside Australia would cause a “Holocaust of job losses”.

He was forced to withdraw the comment and apologise.

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