Childhood & Early Life
Tony Abbott was born on 4th November 1957 in London, to Fay Abbott (nee Peters) and Richard Henry Abbott. His mother was an Australian and his father was British.
His family migrated to Australia in 1960 and settled in Sydney. Tony Abbott received his early education at primary school at St Aloysius’ College, Sydney and completed his secondary education at St. Ignatius’ College, Sydney for secondary school.
He did his graduation in Bachelor of Economics in 1979, and thereafter did his Bachelor of Laws (LLB) in 1981; both from University of Sydney.
He was a president of the Student Representative Council while he resided at St John’s College. He also attended The Queen’s College, Oxford, from where he completed Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 1983. Furthermore, he also completed his Masters of Arts in 1989.
Abbott was in limelight in his university days when he opposed the then dominant left-wing student leadership. A student newspaper editor with different political views than Abbott’s took him to court on charges of indecent assault after he touched her during a debate. The charges were soon dismissed.
When he was at St. Ignatuis College, Abbott was taught and influenced by the Jesuits. He was also a student boxer and earned two Blues for boxing when he was at Oxford.
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After completing his studies in Britain, he returned to Australia and decided to become a priest. In 1984, he joined St Patrick's Seminary, Manly but did not complete his studies and left the seminary in 1987.
Following this incident, Abbott returned to Australia from Britain and decided to join priesthood, but soon enough changed his mind.
He worked as a journalist and got involved in national politics. He began to write articles for newspapers and magazines like ‘The Catholic Weekly’ and national publication like ‘The Bulletin’. He also wrote for the newspaper ‘The Australian’.
In 1993, he renounced his British citizenship and hence became eligible for election to Australian federal parliament.
In March 1994, Tony Abbott won the Liberal preselection for federal Division of Warringah by-election. In the 1996 general elections, he easily won the seat in his own right.
From 1996 to 1998, he served as the parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs (1996-98). As a parliamentary secretary, it was Abbott’s responsibility to look for establishment of the Green Corps program.
Tony Abbot was promoted to cabinet in 1998 and served as Minister for Employment Services (1998-2001), and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations (2001-03). As Minister for Employment Services, he looked after the implementation of the ‘Job Network’ and also for government’s ‘Work for the Dole’ scheme.
From 2003 to 2007, he served as the Minister for Health and Ageing. In 2006, he ran into controversy when he opposed the idea of abortion terming it as a murder. In 2007 elections, he campaigned as Minister for Health.
In 2007, The Liberal-National Coalition lost the elections but Tony Abbott was re-elected to the seat of Warringah. By December 2007, he was assigned the Shadow Portfolio of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. During this period, he also wrote a biography ‘Battlelines’.
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In 2009, he resigned from shadow ministerial responsibilities in opposition against the stand taken by the Liberal Party on the Rudd Government's Emissions Trading Scheme.
On December 1, 2009, Tonny Abbot defeated Malcolm Turnbull by 42 votes to 41, to become the leader of the Liberal Party of Australia and the Leader of the Opposition.
In 2010, he announced a new policy to provide paid parental leave. But business groups and government opposed the plan; however, it won support from Australian Greens.
After the 2010 elections, Abbott, and his deputy, Julie Bishop, were re-elected as the leaders of the Liberal Party.
In 2012, Abbott launched his book ‘A Strong Australia’ which was a compilation of nine of his ‘landmark speeches’ from 2012.
In 2013 elections, Tony Abbot led the Liberal/National coalition to victory over the then Labor government, led by Kevin Rudd. Tony Abbot assumed the office of Prime Minister on 18th September 2013. He was criticised for including only one woman in his cabinet.
Immediately after assuming power, he introduced legislation to repeal the Carbon Tax, and implemented policy measures to stop illegal maritime arrivals. He also oversaw free trade agreements signed with Japan, South Korea and China.
In 2014, Abbott presented his first Australian federal budget which was criticised by the opposition as ‘cruel’ and ‘unfair’.
Malcolm Turnbull, the Minister for Communications resigned on 14 September 2015 and challenged the Liberal Party leadership in leadership spill. A party-room meeting was held and Abbott was defeated by Turnbull by 54-44 votes.
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In 2016, Tony Abbott was re-elected for Liberal preselection for Division of Warringah. Since then he has criticised the stand of the party on a number of policy issues.
Tony Abbott ran into controversy when he appointed former Howard Government minister Bronwyn Bishop as the Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives. Bishop attended Liberal party room meetings despite knowing the Speaker had to be impartial.
In July 2015, the details of her use of taxpayer-funded political entitlements were made public which enclosed her chartering a helicopter flight from Melbourne and Geelong for attending a Liberal party fundraiser. This incident brought her and Abbott in intense media scrutiny.
Abbott was criticised for dragging the controversy as he refused to sack Bishop despite pressure since she was a close friend. On 2nd August 2015, she had to resign despite Prime Minister’s support.
When Tony Abbott was the Cabinet Minister, he carried out health care initiatives including the Nurse Family Partnership, a scheme which improved conditions for indigenous youths by improving mother-child relationships. The scheme was proved successful and it reduced child abuse and improved school retention rates.
After getting elected as the Prime Minister, Abbott announced a Royal Commission into trade union governance and corruption in 2014. He also made amendments to the Fair Work Act and ‘Repeal Day’ and got more than 10,000 ‘red tape’ regulations repealed.
The Carbon Tax Repeal Bill and the Mining Tax Repeal Bill was passed by both houses of Parliament under Abbott’s leadership.
When Tony Abbott was 22, her then-girlfriend claimed that she was pregnant with his child. Tony and his girlfriend did not marry and put the child up for adoption. For 27 years, Abbot believed that he was the father of the child but later it was revealed through DNA tests that Abbot was not the biological father of the child.
Tony Abbott served as the Prime Minister for only 1 year and 362 days and became tenth shortest Prime Minister in the Australian history.
He is a volunteer member for the Davidson, NSW Rural Fire Service, and Queenscliff Surf Life Saving Club.
Abbott spent three weeks teaching in Aboriginal settlement in Coen on Cape York in 2008.
He has published four books, ‘The Minimal Monarchy: and why it still makes sense for Australia’ (1995), ‘How to Win the Constitutional War: and give both sides what they want’ (1997), ‘Battlelines’ (2009), ‘A Strong Australia’ (2012).