Tony Abbott arriving at his Election party at Manly Leagues Club  after being defeated by Independent Zali Steggall for the seat of Warringah. Picture: Tim Hunter.
Tony Abbott arriving at his Election party at Manly Leagues Club after being defeated by Independent Zali Steggall for the seat of Warringah. Picture: Tim Hunter.

Abbott slams ‘nastiness’ in politics

TONY Abbott has lashed out at the "new nastiness in Australian politics" as new details emerged of the highly organised grassroots effort to dump him from his seat.

In an interview recorded prior to Saturday's night's election loss and aired on the ABC's Four Corners, Mr Abbott told how "nasty people" in his electorate wanted change.

"I think this is a new nastiness in Australian politics," he said.

"Now, I'm not for a second suggesting that any of the candidates in Warringah are somehow doing this but it is a fact that there are some pretty nasty people who want change here.

"I say to all the decent people in Australia if you want to try to lift the tone of our public life and to lift the quality of our national conversation, don't in any way give aid and comfort to these nasty elements."

Tony Abbott at outside his ome the mornign after losing the election. Picture: Jeremy Piper
Tony Abbott at outside his ome the mornign after losing the election. Picture: Jeremy Piper

The former prime minister lost the seat after a swing of more than 13 per cent against him, having represented the blue-ribbon seat since 1994.

Mr Abbott said the campaign launched against him by activist group GetUp, especially a television advert that mocked lifesavers, was "tacky beyond belief", Four Corners reported.

 

The political movement that took down Tony Abbott was well on track before independent Zali Steggall joined up. Picture: Damian Shaw
The political movement that took down Tony Abbott was well on track before independent Zali Steggall joined up. Picture: Damian Shaw

 

"It was really demeaning to everyone who is a surf lifesaver and there's something like 150,000 volunteer surf lifesavers around the country," he said.

"All of them had their work mocked by that ad. I frankly can't believe that GetUp ever thought it was a good idea. It just shows the appalling judgment that the people behind GetUp have."

Tony Abbott arriving at his Election party at Manly Leagues Club  after being defeated by Independent Zali Steggall for the seat of Warringah. Picture: Tim Hunter.
Tony Abbott arriving at his Election party at Manly Leagues Club after being defeated by Independent Zali Steggall for the seat of Warringah. Picture: Tim Hunter.

The behind-the-scenes look during the election campaign shows how the political movement that took down Mr Abbott was well on track before independent Zali Steggall joined up.

Mr Abbott's position on climate change sowed the seeds of the grassroots movement to unseat him.

The insurgency took hold among disillusioned Liberal voters, who described themselves as "the Coalition of the Willing" to remove Mr Abbott from Warringah, which represents some of Sydney's most affluent northern beaches areas.

The group established "fairly quickly" that in order to remove Mr Abbott, they would need to find an independent candidate and decided to "push the button" on Ms Steggall when she put her hand up after buying anti-Abbott T-shirts.

Ms Stegall told the program: "When I decided to do that post, I was actually pretty much already thinking, 'I'm putting my hand up' because that was actually my first step in saying, 'It's time to offer change'."