The interview everybody’s talking about today.
Sales was at her straight-shooting best in the gripping segment, at one point even asking Abbott directly why he wasn’t a very effective Prime Minister.
Abbott responded to her tough questions by “hyperventilating on slogans,” according to one of many viewers who took to Twitter to air their less-than-impressed takes on his appearance.
Here are the key moments you need to know about from the hard-hitting interview:
Abbott said he wouldn’t accept Syrian refugees from Australia-run detention centres.
Leigh asked how the lucky 12,000 would be chosen, and Abbott clarified that the government would be focusing on “persecuted minorities, on women, children and families who are in refuges on the borders of Syria”.
He added that he would not take Syrian refugees already waiting in Australia-run detention centres on Manus Island.
When Sales pressed him on why, Abbott emphasised — rather heavily — that the government didn’t want to encourage people smugglers or those who’d used them.
“We don’t want to reward people smugglers and we don’t want to reward people smuggling. So, we are very much going to go to people who have sought asylum, sought refuge on the borders of Syria, in Turkey, in Lebanon, in Jordan,” he said.
Then, as if he hadn’t said the phrase “people smugglers” enough, he added:
“We’re not particularly going to go and look for people who have used the services of people smugglers to get into Europe, because the last thing we want is to add to the problem of people smuggling, the last thing we want is to reward people smugglers and their clients.”
Abbott took a swipe at the ABC.
When Sales questioned Abbott about the economy, pointing out that unemployment and budget deficit figures had risen since Labor left office, Abbott went on the defence.
“Bankruptcies at record lows, company registrations at record highs, car sales and housing approvals at near-record highs. So, a lot of very good things are happening in our economy, and Leigh, I refuse to talk our country down,” Abbott responded.
He then took a swipe at the ABC, criticising it for not “looking for the good” in the economy.
“I refuse to talk our country down and I hope the national broadcaster might join me in looking for the good and boosting our country, which has so much potential.”
Sales quipped back: “I wonder what you would’ve done if I’d helped Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard look for the good [when Labor was in office].”
Abbott’s response to the economy question (post continues after video):