Malcolm Turnbull cannot remember anyone being too drunk to vote — other than Tony Abbott.
“I lay down and next thing I knew it was morning,” he told Annabel Crabb in an upcoming episode of the ABC series The House.
Mr Turnbull was opposition leader at the time and trying to oppose the Rudd government’s stimulus measures in response to the global financial crisis of 2008.
He has told radio 3AW that Mr Abbott was drunk but “there was nothing we could do”.
He knew Mr Abbott was asleep in his office and unable to be roused after a boozy dinner with colleagues.
“It’s clearly not acceptable or admirable in any way,” he said.
He said the MPs known as “whips” — who organise their colleagues to be ready for votes — just could not wake Mr Abbott as he slept on the couch.
“The whips tried to rouse him to get him down into the chamber to vote but they were unable to move him, so he missed out on his vote,” Mr Turnbull said.
“It was a pretty important vote too — that was Rudd’s big cash splash after the GFC, I was arguing we did not need to spend that much money that quickly.
“I was disappointed, I can’t remember anyone else missing a vote because they were too drunk to get into the chamber, but the fact is that Tony has ‘fessed up to it, he knows it was an error or whatever.
“He has acknowledged it, and that is good.”
‘Quite a few bottles of wine were consumed’
Mr Abbott has never before explained fully why he missed the votes on Labor’s stimulus plans.
He told Crabb he was with colleagues Peter Costello and Kevin Andrews in the parliamentary dining room.
“I think quite a few bottles of wine were consumed by the three of us,” he said.
“I think all of us were in a mellow and reflective mood, so the reflections went on for longer and later than they should have and the impact was rather greater than it should have been.
“I think I famously slept through several divisions.”
Wayne Swan, who was treasurer at the time, said he was frustrated he had been asked to withdraw comments in which he said Mr Abbott was drunk during those votes.
“I talked about this in the Parliament in 2013,” Mr Swan said.
“I was asked to withdraw when I said Tony Abbott was drunk during these critical votes in the Parliament, way back.
“Of course, now we know the truth — he slept through some of the most important votes in the Australian Parliament in over 50 or 60 years.”