Tony Abbott's 'come to Jesus' moment

2015-06-02 11:20
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. (Mark Graham, AFP)

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. (Mark Graham, AFP)

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Sydney - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has given ministers a dressing down over cabinet leaks describing it as a "come to Jesus moment" for senior officials.

Abbott "read the riot act" to his cabinet on Monday after top level discussions last week about denying citizenship to jihadist supporters, and frontbench rifts over the proposal, were leaked to the media before he went public with the plan.

Details of him blasting his ministers were also leaked on Wednesday, with both the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Fairfax Media citing sources as saying staunch Catholic Abbott had spoken about it as a "come to Jesus moment".

One MP said he interpreted it to mean that ministers had "seen the light" about their actions while others said Abbott was attempting to give his cabinet an ultimatum that "you're either on the team or you ain't".

During the Monday meeting, Abbott warned of "personal and political" consequences of divulging cabinet discussions, without spelling out exactly what he meant, it was reported.

He sidestepped questions about the issue in parliament on Tuesday, to howls of derision from Labour, with senior opposition figure Anthony Albanese saying the description of the cabinet confrontation showed Abbott was "out of touch".

"You scratch your head and wonder how this guy ever got to the Lodge, with his three-word slogans," he said, referring to the prime minister's official residence in Canberra.

Abbott has a history of using odd phrases and catchy slogans, once referring to the Syria conflict as "baddies versus baddies" while last year threatening to "shirtfront" Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Read more on:    tony abbott  |  australia

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