News National It’s nice to be popular, Tony Abbott jokes

It’s nice to be popular, Tony Abbott jokes

Tony Abbott
Tony Abbott asked his first question from the backbench since being ousted as PM. Photo: AAP
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Out of the blue, there’s never been a better time to be Tony Abbott in parliament.

The former prime minister usually spends his time in the lower house chamber looking busy writing letters and reading pages of documents.

So other MPs sat up and took notice when he decided to play a support role in the theatre that is question time on Wednesday.

The member for Warringah was given a Dorothy Dixer to deliver – his first since being ousted from high office by Malcolm Turnbull a year ago.

Abbott was met with roars, cheers and applause from Labor as its MPs cheekily welcomed him back to the stage.

“Nice to be popular,” he returned, cheerfully thrusting a piece of paper in the air.

The opposition was quick with the jeers.

“Like the poltergeist, he’s baaaack!” Labor frontbencher Ed Husic teased.

The question itself was also telling, with Abbott repeating the “jobs and growth” mantra his successor has championed since taking over.

Earlier in the day, Turnbull made a very public show of offering an olive branch to the man he brought down, personally summoning Abbott from the backbench to greet the visiting Singaporean prime minister.

The familiar and old was also rearing its head in another way during question time as Labor rehashed two questions from the previous day on the mental health impacts of a same-sex marriage plebiscite and Medicare.

“You’ve asked this question!” an exasperated Health Minister Sussan Ley retorted.

Only two opposition MPs were booted for heckling during the one-hour show – including Stephen Jones, the Labor member for Whitlam.

“Another unfair Whitlam dismissal I reckon,” colleague Rob Mitchell protested.


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