POLITICS

Tony Abbott Was Passed Out Drunk During Important Parliamentary Vote

Global financial markets were collapsing, and Abbott was too pissed to vote.

25/08/2017 9:43 AM AEST | Updated 25/08/2017 9:44 AM AEST
Fairfax Media
Tony Abbott during question time at Parliament House

Tony Abbott has admitted that he passed out, drunk, in Parliament House and was too intoxicated to vote on measures around Australia's response to the global financial crisis in 2009.

Abbott admitted to the long-running rumour to ABC journalist Annabel Crabb, as part of her new TV series 'The House'. In the episode to air on September 5, Abbott laughed as he recounted the story.

The Member for Warringah said he was with fellow Liberals Peter Costello and Kevin Andrews and "hung out rather a long time" in the members-only dining room of Parliament House.

"The night that the then-Rudd government was trying to bring in measures to deal with the GFC," Abbott said.

"I think quite a few bottles of wine were consumed by the three of us.

"I think I famously slept through several divisions."

Then-treasurer Wayne Swan famously accused Abbott of being drunk at the time, and was forced by the Speaker of the House at the time to withdraw his claim. Liberal MP Christopher Pyne called it an "extraordinary" claim, but Abbott has now confirmed it was actually right on the money.

At the time, Abbott told a journalist who asked whether he was drunk that it was "an impertinent question" and reportedly hung up the phone.

On Friday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull -- who ousted Abbott from the top job in 2015 -- said he knew Abbott was drunk at the time and was "disappointed".

Abbott's admission comes in the same week the Government revealed the first trial sites for its controversial welfare drug testing program. The plan -- to test 5000 welfare recipients for use of ecstasy, marijuana and amphetamines -- has been pushed by the Government as a way to ensure job seekers are "job ready".

"You are not going to be ready for work if you are drunk," deputy PM Barnaby Joyce said in May.

Independent senator Jacqui Lambie has pushed for the drug testing to be extended to parliamentarians as well.

"I called for this about two and a half years ago when I first come up here. It would be nice to see Parliament leading by example and do drug testing at their own doors," she told the ABC in May.

"They're paid by the taxpayer, public servants and politicians. They could be doing random drug tests at the doors and leading by example and that way they won't get so much flak."

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said politicians should be breath-tested before casting votes.

"We should have a booze bus outside the Senate doors on Thursday mornings... there will be some people who come into this place with, I reckon, their blood alcohol level quite well over what you'd expect for somebody coming to work," Hanson-Young told HuffPost Australia in May.

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