Ousted Australian PM Tony Abbott says any leader watching his back is not focusing on the main job

Former prime minister Tony Abbott spoke to radio host Ray Hadley this morning about his fall from prime ministership two weeks ago.

After his ousting,Abbott promised he would not act against the new leader, Malcolm Turnbull.

“My pledge today is to make this change as easy as I can. There will be no wrecking, no undermining, no sniping,” he said the next day.

And today he stood by it.

Hadley opened his interview with concern for for Abbott’s well-being following his dumping as leader.

“Yes I am and thank you for your concern,” Abbott responded. “I always knew politics was a brutal business… and it was a bruising business to lose the prime ministership.

“I could probably dwell on bad things if I wanted to but I would rather focus… on the honour of being prime minister.”

Hadley touched on whether Abbott should have watched his back more while in the leadership position.

“I’ve never believed in watching my own back… and in government and opposition that is what I have done… any leader who is watching his back is not focusing on the main job.”

Abbott said doing so would have been the definition of going backwards, and that if a leader plays such internal politics then they are putting their position and their party at risk, adding he always put his trust in his ministers, especially deputy leader Julie Bishop and the now treasurer, Scott Morrison.

“You’ve got to rely on the people close to you,” he said. “All I can say of Julie and Scott is that they were extremely effective ministers in my government.

“The last thing I want to come out of this is a headline that ‘Abbott slams Morrison’,” he joked adding, “[Morrison] is a very strong and effective minister… I’m sure he’ll be a strong and effective minister in the new government.”

Hadley asked whether or not Morrison warned anyone in the former PM’s office that tensions in the party were becoming “febrile”, something Hadley had a heated interview with Morrison about following Abbott’s dismal, accusing the now treasurer of misleading him and his listeners. Read more about that here.

“Certainty there were conversations between Scott and Peta… he’s put one construction on the conversation, Peta has put another” he said, “but it’s probably a bit counter-productive to look at all this now.”

Last week Abbott claimed in newspaper interviewthat Morrison had not warned him about moves against him.

Abbott said that he would talk to the new treasurer about the situation one day.

“At some point in time we’ll have a conversation about those things,” he said. “In the end all of us have got to answer to our god and our conscience… I’m not going to get into who should have said what.”

Abbott said Australia needed to change the “revolving door” culture for prime ministers, adding that voters who felt they couldn’t forgive Turnbull for the ousting should rally behind the party nonetheless.

“It would be terrible if people were to abandon Liberal party because of this,” he said, “It’s always better to stay and fight. It’s always better to avoid making a bad situation worse.”

Hadley asked the question on everyone’s mind: what’s next?

“I’m not making any final decisions this side of Christmas,” Abbott said.

“These days a 57 years old is not old… and I’m too young to retire,” he acknowledged but said that he’s “never been someone who just wanted the hang around a smell the roses”.

On Sunday he spent the day volunteering with the local fire brigade – an activity he hadn’t had as much time for in recent years, and this weekend the country’s former leader expected to be on surf patrol on Sydney’s northern beaches.

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