Malcolm Turnbull has unloaded on former prime minister Tony Abbott as a reactionary who has old-fashioned ideas about women, suggesting he should go back to the old country and reclaim his British citizenship because he would be happier there.
In an extraordinary attack on the man he dumped as prime minister, Mr Turnbull has also suggested Mr Abbott would have to live with what he has said about women and his “abuse” of Julia Gillard.
“At the time of the lead up to the last British elections I wondered whether Tony might regain his UK citizenship, which he could do, because he was born in the UK, and run for the House of Commons,” Mr Turnbull told ABC TV.
“I am not making a prediction, but he has got a sort of a view of the Anglosphere which sort of … perhaps … you know, would make that more suitable for him.”
Mr Turnbull has repeatedly ridiculed Mr Abbott for years over his “mad” plan to bring back Knights and Dames before offering one to Prince Philip on Australia Day.
And while he didn’t want to use the word “misogynist” – the word Ms Gillard used in her famous speech – Mr Turnbull said everyone knew that Mr Abbott had some old-fashioned views on women.
“Well, he has put a few nasty labels on me over the years I might say, so I won’t return the compliment but I would just say, Tony has got very … what would I say? Reactionary views, I think, on women‘s’ role in the world,’’ he said.
“I don’t think he has expressed them publicly, we don’t need to go through them, we all know what his publicly stated views are, and he is obviously very, he was probably the most vocal opponent of marriage equality.
“So you know, Tony has got to live with his, what he has said about women, he has got to live with his treatment and abuse of Julia Gillard, he has got to live with the incredible – incredibly effective framing of him by Julia Gillard in that speech in the house which I was there for and I might say, it was very interesting.”
Describing Mr Abbott’s new trade role in the United Kingdom as “a bit of a beat up”, Mr Turnbull said it didn’t amount to much and was an unpaid role.
“Well he is not, I mean, it was a bit of a beat up really, I’m not sure who was responsible for the beat up, whether it was Tony or the government or someone else,’’ Mr Turnbull said.
“Boris Johnson has appointed him to an unpaid advisory role to their board of trade, which is essentially the trade minister and a couple of other senior ministers.
“He is not going to be negotiating trade deals. Obviously a former Australian Prime Minister, if he was representing another country, that would be awkward to say the least.”
The Prime Minister also weighed in on the Victorian lockdown suggesting some of the criticism was overblown.
“I am very reluctant to join in everyone else criticising Dan Andrews, he has a very difficult job, and managing the pandemic is hard for everybody,” he said.
“Clearly, the infection rate got out of hand. The truth however is that Gladys Berejiklian’s government in New South Wales has been more effective in containing it, and suppressing although not eradicating the virus, but it is a very slow and long haul.”
Asked if he understood the Prime Minister’s frustration with the situation, Mr Turnbull observed that Scott Morrison should probably suggest some ideas if he didn’t like the plan on offer.
“The problem is, what is his alternative? There is a lot of politics in this obviously. Expecting politicians not to be political is a little foolish. Given that where they started, with those very high infection rates, the question is, what should they do differently where they are now?
“This is a bit like the person who goes to the Irish pub and asks for directions to Dublin, and the barman says if I were you I wouldn’t be starting from here. So the question I think that could be asked of Scott Morrison is, ‘What would you suggest Dan Andrews should do differently right now?’”.
Mr Turnbull also said the Morrison Government had no excuses when it came to dodging its responsibility in terms of what had unfolded in the nation’s nursing homes.
“Aged care is a Federal Government responsibility, no question about that,” Mr Turnbull said.
“I was very surprised there wasn’t a very thorough plan to deal with aged care.”