Tony Abbott has spoken to 60 Minutes about his views on controversial issues including gay marriage and abortion.
In his discussion with interviewer Liz Hayes tonight, Abbott explained his now infamous on air confession in 2010 that he was ‘a bit threatened’ by gay people.
The Opposition Leader admitted that he had “certainly said some things which I wouldn’t say now,” but that during his 2010 interview, he was privately coming to terms with his sister’s decision to end her marriage of 19 years because she fell in love with another woman.
LIZ HAYES: You said to me during that interview…
TONY ABBOTT: That famous interview.
LIZ HAYES: That you were a bit threatened.
TONY ABBOTT: Uh huh.
LIZ HAYES: She said she was disappointed you said that.
TONY ABBOTT: Sure. When I reviewed the thing was a bit disappointed as well. What flashed through my mind, as you were questioning me, was what was going on in my own family at the time, Liz.
Now I couldn’t talk about that then because it was deeply personal and deeply private. But certainly, they were very tough times for our family, hence my comment, because the cohesion of our family was threatened at that time. But I’m pleased to say that we’re all in a better space now than we were then.
60 Minutes also spoke to Tony Abbott’s sister, who is a supporter of gay marriage – something the Coalition party room remain firmly against. And while Abbott explained that he and his sister had had robust debates about the issue, he didn’t indicate that his party’s position on the issue, or his own, were likely to change in the near future.
Tony Abbott also used the 60 Minutes interview to clarify his position on abortion. This is the first time Abbott has spoken substantively about his views on a woman’s right to choose, since taking the Liberal leadership three years ago. It is a critical step in his campaign to improve his standing amongst women voters.
LIZ HAYES: I think it’s because you’ve been so outspoken in some of the sensitive areas that makes women distrust whether or not you will invoke your own religious beliefs when it comes to policy-making. Can you guarantee us that that won’t happen?
TONY ABBOTT: Yes, I can, Liz. Faith is important to me. It’s important to millions of Australians. It helps to shape who I am. It helps to shape my values. But it must never, never dictate my politics. Judge me by what the considered view today is, not by throwaway lines and offhand comments 35 years ago.
LIZ HAYES: Well, how offhand was your line about abortion when you said it was the easy way out?
TONY ABBOTT: Liz, I don’t want to minimise from time to time the errors that I’ve made.
LIZ HAYES: Was that an error?
TONY ABBOTT: Well, I didn’t express it as well as I could have or should have. And I absolutely accept that for any woman facing an unexpected pregnancy, the choices are tough.
Were you watching 60 Minutes? Did Tony Abbott’s comments make you more likely to vote for him?