Tony Abbott has defended himself after current PM Malcolm Turnbull said Abbott would have been aware of a deal to allow the importation of the Adler shotgun, with opposition leader Bill Shorten taking advantage of the government division to drop a veritable avalanche of his infamous zingers.
Labor again devoted almost their entire contribution to Question Time to asking about the alleged deal between Senator David Leyonhjelm and the Abbott administrationon the controversial Adler shotgun. Leyonhjelm has been showing correspondence between his office and the office of Justice Minister Michael Keenan in 2015 -- when Abbott was still PM -- saying that the government would insert a sunset clause into legislation to allow the Adler into the country, in return for Leyonhjelm's support on an immigration bill.
Abbott went on ABC 7.30 on Wednesday to defend himself, which gave the opposition a whole new line of attack on Thursday in Question Time. Labor asked multiple questions about how, if at all, Abbott was involved in the deal. During Question Time, Turnbull backed Keenan and immigration minister Peter Dutton over Abbott, saying he was "satisfied that the Minister for Justice acted in the full knowledge of the Prime Minister's Office".
It prompted Abbott to take the floor of the House of Representatives to defend himself.
Asked by the speaker if he had been "misrepresented", Abbott replied "oh, most grievously".
He said Labor claimed he had "connived" and done a deal "with Senator Leyonhjelm to weaken Australia's tough, gold-standard gun control laws. This is absolutely and utterly false."
"The bottom line is that but for the ban imposed by the Abbott government and continued by the Turnbull government there would be many thousands more rapid fire shotguns in the country than there currently are."
Abbott produced an adviser's note from August 2015 outlining advice that the Adler be banned in Australia until they can be classified properly, citing community safety issues.
"How can there have been some kind of a deal or concession or weakening for Senator Leyonhjelm on the 11th of 12th of August if the temporary ban was what the government had always intended pending a permanent resolution of this by COAG [the Council of Australian Governments]?" Abbott asked.
"This is a smoke screen. Everything said today is a smoke screen to cover up for the fact Labor is running a protection racket for the CFMEU."
Then Shorten came to the dispatch box. The opposition leader has become infamous for his (sometimes cringeworthy) jokes, and while he shelved them for most of the election campaign, it seems he had an entire speech worth of zingers just ready to unleash -- and unleash them, he did.
"We all heard it, that thudding noise, as Malcolm Turnbull threw Tony Abbott under the bus," Shorten roared.
"Then the previous Prime Minister stood up and threw his current boss under the bus!"
Shorten kept up the attack, claiming the week -- which Turnbull had hoped would be about the Australian Building and Construction Commisison bills -- had been derailed by gun control and Abbott.
"You can just picture him 96 hours ago on Sunday, back in the Lodge, luggage in the luggage lift, out there checking the letterbox, seeing if there's a postcard from Wyatt Roy," referencing the former minister who was in hot water for visiting a conflict zone in Iraq, before turning to some of the current members in parliament.
"They got so bad at communicating their message they got the Minister for Trade up, he was talking in Morse code, R2D2 Ciobo beeping away at the box," Shorten laughed, listing some of the embarrassing slip-ups of the current parliament, including losing procedural votes and failing to vote against a motion that condemned the government itself.
"Remember when the Member for Wentworth invented the internet, there was that little paperclip they had on Microsoft Word? You could just see it saying 'it looks like you're trying to be a minister, do you need help?'," Shorten laughed.