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Abbott defends his right to speak out, work for other countries


Former prime minister Tony Abbott is standing firm amid criticism of his comments on the pandemic and his new job as a British trade rep.

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Current PM Scott Morrison was forced to dismiss Abbott’s comments on the pandemic earlier this month, after Abbott criticised “health dictatorships” and suggested sometimes it was best to just make older people “as comfortable as possible while nature takes its course”.

In a webinar last week for the QUT Graduate School of Business, Abbott said he had deliberately remained silent on the pandemic issue for some months.

“You’ve got to be careful about slipping into the role of ‘all care and no responsibility’ commentator on your successors,” Abbott said.

“Look, from time to time, I will have things to say about public issues. I made a speech in London last week about the pandemic policy, which I’ve been, in a sense, wanting to say for months but I thought it was important to wait for the right context in which to say it.

“I’ve made a few speeches on China recently because I think this is a very important issue and it goes beyond the commentary from the cheap seats of the events of the day.”

Abbott has also been criticised for taking on a United Kingdom trade role for the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which some claim will pit him against Australia.

He told the webinar there were limitations and restrictions on employment opportunities for former prime ministers. He wanted to contribute to public life, beyond his local fire brigade, surf patrol, being on the Australian War Memorial council and the board of the Ramsay Centre.

“I’ve recently picked up this advisory, unpaid advisory job for the British board of trade,” Abbott said.

“That’s important … because it’s in Australia’s interest as much as it is in Britain’s that Britain flourish in a post-Brexit world. So, I’ll throw myself into that and just see what happens.”

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