CANBERRA -- Former prime minister Tony Abbott has been put on the spot over remaining leadership ambitions and declared a return to power "almost impossible to imagine" after the Turnbull Government achieved yet another losing Newspoll result.
But it may be possible if he was drafted as, yet again, Abbott refuses to rule out any move on the top job.
The 21st losing Newspoll in a row result puts Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull just nine poor Newspolls away from the test he used, in significant part, for toppling Abbott in 2015 and left Sydney radio 2GB host Ray Hadley on Monday declaring Turnbull should "fall on his sword, for the good of the party!" rather than be challenged.
Abbott tried to have none of it, pointedly saying 30 losing Newspolls was Turnbull's test, not his.
"The focus shouldn't be on the polls, the focus should be on being the best possible Government," Abbott said.
But, does he agree? He tried not to say. So Hadley demanded an answer as there were backbench "natives" getting restless.
Ray Hadley asks Abbott whether Turnbull should resign at 30 Newspoll losses. Abbott doesn't say yes or no, but notes it was PM's benchmark— Bevan Shields (@BevanShields) October 15, 2017
It then became crystal ball time on the AM dial. Perhaps if the ex-PM was drafted? What if Turnbull decided, as he neared 30 losing Newspolls in a row, 'that's it for me. I have had a crack'?
Would Abbott then be interested in leading the Government again?
"When you're an ex, the only way you can come back is if you're drafted. And I think that's a pretty rare and unusual business in politics," Abbott responded.
"The only way an ex could ever come back is by way of a draft, and that's almost impossible to imagine."
Government Leader of the House and Turnbull supporter Christopher Pyne is not entertaining any thought of an Abbott return, telling Sky News that polls should not be listened to.
"There a veritable blizzard of polls in Australia politics today," Pyne said. "And we saw their unreliability in the Trump election in the United States. Their unreliability in the Brexit vote in the U.K. In the recent U.K general election."
"There are so many polls that, really, I think the public have turn off from polls."
Tony Abbott rules out a comeback, almost https://t.co/jlHJDhavSc— Phillip Coorey (@PhillipCoorey) October 15, 2017
Abbott also hit back at critics of last week's London speech where he claimed climate change, if it was happening, was doing "more good than harm".
The member for Warringah suggested critics hadn't actually listened to the speech which had been condemned by British Labour leader Ed Miliband for "idiocy" and deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek as "loopy", "weird" and "just nuts".
"It is nice to think people were listening. I am not sure all the people who criticised it had actually read it," he said.
"But it is important to put these things in perspective," he said before saying it was "literally insane" to pursue renewable energy policies while Australia had the "largest readily available reserves of coal, gas and uranium."
The London speech -- which questioned the science of climate change and likened climate scientists to the "thought police" and climate policies to the ancient practice of sacrificing goats to appease gods -- was also criticised by members of his own party.