After years of lies and deflections, Australia’s former prime minister Tony Abbott has admitted on a local television program that he missed a crucial 2009 vote on a $42 billion stimulus package intended to shore up the country’s banking system during the financial crisis because he was passed out drunk.
Abbott, then a member of the Liberal party’s front bench, said he fell asleep on the couch in his office after consuming “quite a few bottles of wine” with two of his peers in the MP’s dining room “and could not be roused.” The next thing he knew, it was morning, and he had missed the vote, according to the Herald Sun.
The admission comes years after a public row erupted between Abbott and former Labor Treasurer Wayne Swan when, back in 2013, Swan accused Abbott of missing the crucial vote because he drank too much. At the time, Abbott demanded that Swan stop “telling lies” about him, and members of Abbott’s party asked that Swan withdraw his comments from the parliamentary record.
The disclosure, which was seemingly made on a whim, took Abbott’s friends and opponents by surprise. Abbott served as prime minister for two years between 2013 to 2015 before losing a party leadership vote to his former communications minister and current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Abbott made his big reveal during an interview with Annabel Crabb, the eponymous host of popular Australian politics program “The House With Annabel Crabb.” The interview will be included in an episode set to air on September 5, according to the Herald Sun.
“There was one famous occasion when Peter Costello, Kevin Andrews and I hung out rather a long time here,” he told Crabb.
“The night that the then-Rudd government was trying to bring in measures to deal with the GFC.
“I think quite a few bottles of wine were consumed by the three of us,” Abbott said with a laugh.
“Peter was close to leaving at that stage, and 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.
“The impact was rather greater than it should have been.
“I think I famously slept through several divisions.”
Crabb pressed Abbott to confirm that the rumors about his drinking were, in fact, true.
“Crabb prompted the former PM to go on, saying, “the story was that you repaired … to the couch in your room and could not be roused”.
Mr Abbott confirmed this is what happened.
“It was a late night sitting, against all OH&S rules as you can imagine,” he said.
“I lay down, and the next thing I knew it was morning.”
Swan jumped on the opportunity to take a few jabs at his longtime political rival. Both Swan and Abbott continue to serve in Australia’s House of Representatives.
“When the jobs of Australians were on the line, Tony Abbott didn’t care,” he said.
“His recklessness knows no bounds.”
While the revelation is amusing, it likely won’t impact Abbott’s chances of retaining his seat. Abbott’s district, Warringah, which is located along the northern edge of Sydney, has long been dominated by Liberal Party politicians.