10 things you need to know about Tony Abbott, Australia's new prime minister


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The Independent Online

The prime-minister elect of Australia, Tony Abbott, a fitness nut, donned his helmet and headed out for an early cycle on the first morning after his Liberal National coalition won a majority of 30 seats in yesterday's election. Our editorial from Friday pointed out some of the new leader's other hobbies (cracking down on immigration, pooh-pooing climate change) and we've got a report on the shape his initial policy plans are taking. But what else do you need to know about the London-born Abbott?

1. Anthony John Abbott, born in 1957, graduated from the University of Sydney with two Bachelor degrees - in economics and law

2. Before entering politics, Abbott - a practising Catholic - spent a brief period in the St Patrick's Seminary in New South Wales. (The New Statesman has more on his balance between piety and power, here)

3. Soon-to-be leader of a coalition (which as we know can get fractious) Abbott was less than enamoured of party politics as a young man. He admitted "To join either existing party [Labor or Liberal] involves holding one's nose".

4. Expect gaffes. His latest involved mistaking a rectal implant for a repository in the claim "no one, however smart, is the suppository of all wisdom".

5. In 2011, after the Liberal leader had told Australian troops serving in Afghanistan "sh*t happens" following the death of one soldier, he responded to a probing question on the remark by saying nothing for 28-seconds live on air.


6. Abbott treats politics as a contact sport. Pugnacious verbally, he is also alleged to have punched the wall either side of the head of a female political rival during the 1970s. (He denies the incident took place).

7. As our editorial explains, part of Abbott's rise can be explained by growing hostility to immigration. He has pushed a "tow-back" policy that would see immigrant boats turned around when safe to do so.

8. He voted against relaxing abortion laws, gay marriage and stem cell research.

9. On Twitter, Abbott has 223,000 followers, around 200,000 fewer than former Labour PM Julia Gillard, and over a million behind electoral rival Kevin Rudd.

10. Nicknames include "Tear-down Tony" and the "Mad Monk".