Ousted prime minister Tony Abbott believes his government wasn’t given enough credit for its policies, none of which have changed since he was toppled by Malcolm Turnbull.
But Mr Abbott is happy to credit himself with gifting the new prime minister and his treasurer Scott Morrison a “very strong foundation”.
In his first in-depth interviews since the leadership coup that kicked him out of the prime minister’s office, Mr Abbott insists his government got many things right but was denied deserved credit.
Taking a leaf out of Labor’s book, which is scribed with the slogan “same government, different face”, Mr Abbott pointed out nothing had changed in the two weeks since his fall from the top job.
“The fact that the new prime minister and the new treasurer are saying exactly the same thing today that the former prime minister and former treasurer were saying only a fortnight ago shows that we got it right,” he told the Australian newspaper.
Interestingly, he said, no changes had been made to economic policy, climate change policy, same sex-marriage or border protection.
“And I don’t imagine anything will change in national security policy more broadly,” Mr Abbott said.
“Whatever else the changes of last week were about, they plainly weren’t about policy.”
Despite not being at the helm, Mr Abbott believed it was in the national interest for the coalition to be returned to government at the next election.
Six prime ministers in six years would be “out-Greecing Greece”.
He said the number one issue was that prime minister’s were subject to “death by opinion poll”, which made it difficult to implement necessary reforms.
“And how can we rebuild public trust in public institutions if the prime ministers they vote for are constantly being changed as a result of party room coups,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
“The commentariat have now got the PM they want but the public have lost the PM they vote for… this is a real issue for our country.”
The former prime minister said he was surprised his party entertained a leadership coup after watching the Labor Party implode in recent years with similar tactics.
Mr Abbott, who recently moved into his backbench office in parliament house, insisted he was not complaining when he blamed, in part, his government’s hurdles on a “feckless” Senate, “obdurate” opposition and “very difficult” media.
“This is the world in which we live but many people had a tendency to say ‘they did the right thing the wrong way’ rather than say ‘they did the right thing’,” he said.
Mr Abbott reflected on his government’s 2014 “horror” budget, which could arguably be seen as the start of his fall from grace.
That budget was a “very serious structural attempt” to tackle long-term spending problems, he said.
“We were serious because we took very big political risks to bring cuts about.”
While bowing out last Tuesday, Mr Abbott declared there would be “no wrecking, no undermining, and no sniping”, saying he knew and accepted the rules of the game.
His future remains uncertain, but he is dedicated to serving the country in some capacity.
“In the meantime, I will be a solid member of the parliamentary backbench for the first time in 19 years,” he said.
The 57-year-old said he was too young to retire.
“I want to be able to serve my country in the months and years ahead but precisely what form that takes, it may be no more than continuing to serve in the Davidson fire brigade.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Abbott’s interview just confirmed nothing had changed except the sales person.
ABBOTT’S SELF-SELECTED ACHIEVEMENTS
* $50 billion in savings legislated from 2014 budget
* Stopping the boats
* Scrapping the carbon and mining taxes
* Largest infrastructure spend in history, including Badgerys Creek airport in Sydney
* Free trade agreements with Japan, Korea and China (China FTA is yet to be legislated)
* Trade Union Royal Commission