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Turnbull and Abbott’s awkward dinner date

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In an awkward table arrangement, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was seated opposite current PM Malcolm Turnbull at a dinner honouring John Howard on Wednesday night.

The dinner, which celebrated 20 years since Howard’s government was elected, took place at Parliament House in Canberra.

It’s almost certainly the first time Mr Abbott and Mr Turnbull had broken bread together since Mr Abbott was shafted in a September 2015 leadership spill.

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The two politicians sat with their wives, as well as Mr Howard and his wife, Janette Howard, among hundreds of guests.

Sunday Telegraph journalist Samantha Maiden Tweeted that the current Prime Minister had received underwhelming applause when introduced, compared to “wildly OTT (over the top)” applause for Mr Abbott.

Tensions have been rising between the pair this week, after Mr Turnbull referred a white paper leak – alleged to have come from Mr Abbott – to the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

But Mr Abbott denied he was responsible for the leak, which related to submarines.

Mr Abbott said he was “flabbergasted” to learn that the building of submarines could be pushed back to the 2030s, instead of 2026-27, as he had planned while in power.

On the way into the dinner, Mr Abbott fobbed off journalists’ questions over whether he had leaked the document, instead expressing his excitement to celebrate the Howard Government.

In his speech, Mr Howard said he took full responsibility for his government’s downfall in 2007 and highlighted the current US election, saying we need to consider why voters were turning to Donald Trump, who he said would be a “very poor choice” as president.

Howard, now 76, will celebrate 60 years of Liberal Party membership next year.

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