Companion of the Order of Australia (2020)

18 September 2013 — 15 September 2015 1 year, 362 days

Tony Abbott became Australia's 28th prime minister in 2013, when the Liberal-National Party coalition won office, replacing the Labor government led by Kevin Rudd.


4 November 1957
London, United Kingdom


Margie Abbott



Photo: Jack Tran/Newspix

18 September 2013 — 15 September 2015 1 year, 362 days


Tony Abbott was involved in student politics at university and won a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford. 

Tony Abbot at a fire station dressed in fire clothes.

Photo: Fairfax

After briefly training to be a Jesuit priest, Abbott worked as a journalist, press secretary to Liberal leader John Hewson, and Executive Director of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy before being elected to the federal seat of Warringah in NSW at a by-election in 1994.

Serving in the Howard government, Abbott took on several consecutive ministerial roles in employment and workplace relations and was then Minister for Health and Ageing (2003-2007) and Leader of the House (2001-2007). In the years of opposition that followed the Howard government, Abbott moved to shadow ministries relating to families, community services and Indigenous affairs.

When the Liberal Party became seriously divided over the issue of responding to the Rudd government's proposed emissions trading scheme, Abbott emerged successful from a three-way leadership ballot with Malcolm Turnbull and Joe Hockey. He led the Liberal Party to the election in 2010 but was not able to form a government when a hung parliament ensued. In 2013, Abbott led his party to a sweeping election victory.

He held office as prime minister for just under two years, until Malcolm Turnbull successfully challenged to assume leadership of the Liberal Party again. 


360° VIEW


After achieving victory in the 2013 election, the Liberal-National Party coalition held a strong majority in the House of Representatives. The Senate proved a tougher proposition, with a cross bench of eight senators, and the support of at least six of these required for the government to pass legislation.

The Abbott government managed to get its signature carbon tax repeal package through the parliament, but had much more mixed success with its first budget package in 2014, as key elements languished or had to be dropped. The uncertainty about whether the government could get its legislation through the Senate began to take its toll and prompt further scrutiny of the performance of the prime minister and treasurer Joe Hockey.

Following a 'near death experience' leadership challenge in the Liberal party in February 2015, Abbott decided to replace 'father of the house' Phillip Ruddock as Chief Whip, in a move described as a measure to improve communication between the prime minister and the back bench.

Tony Abbott carries flowers at a memorial.

Photo: Kate Geraghty/Fairfax

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