News National ‘I made mistakes’ that led to downfall: Abbott

‘I made mistakes’ that led to downfall: Abbott

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Tony Abbott has admitted to a series of errors as prime minister that contributed to his downfall, including overlooking women in his cabinet, knighting Prince Philip, and promising a “undeliverable” paid parental leave scheme.

In an analysis of his leadership written for Quadrant magazine, Mr Abbott said he was convinced his government “got the big things right” but said there was no doubt there were mistakes “in smaller things” that loomed large for colleagues.

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Abolishing the debt ceiling was a “serious mistake”, and stripping MPs of perks such as first-class overseas travel and employment of immediate relatives should have been handled more sensitively, he wrote in the piece, which was published in part in The Australian newspaper.

Prince Phillip Duke of Edinburgh
Abbott says he should have anticipated hostility over Prince Philip. Getty

Mr Abbott lamented abandoning changes to the Racial Discrimination Act and said he also should have concluded his six-months-at-full-pay paid parental leave scheme was undeliverable due to “budget realities”.

He should have done more media interviews where voters could see more personality and less sparring, and should have anticipated the hostility over his knighting of Prince Philip.

“Likewise, the initial presence of only one woman in the cabinet was an avoidable error,” he wrote.

Among the things Mr Abbott said his government got right was its policies on climate change, same-sex marriage, and stopping the boats.

“Looking back, the Abbott government’s biggest problem was people’s reluctance to accept that short-term pain might be needed for long-term gain,” he said.

The former prime minister pledged to address the challenge his government “couldn’t always rise to” in his future public life.