/Abbott blasted over tasteless tribute to Bob Hawke

Abbott blasted over tasteless tribute to Bob Hawke

Updated

May 17, 2019 08:55:02

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has been criticised for a “tasteless” tribute to Bob Hawke, who he described as having a “Labor heart but a Liberal head”.

Key points:

  • The Member for Warringah was accused of using Hawke’s death for political point-scoring
  • Scott Morrison said “they’re not the words” he would have used
  • Labor leader Bill Shorten said Mr Abbott was “a man under pressure”

Hawke died aged 89 last night, and Mr Abbott posted a statement describing Hawke as “Labor’s greatest prime minister”, before taking a swipe at his political opponents.

“But his key achievements — financial deregulation, tariffs cuts, and the beginnings of privatisation — went against the Labor grain, as Labor’s more recent policy direction shows,” his statement read.

“You might also say he had a Labor heart, but a Liberal head.”

The Member for Warringah — who is locked in a tight tussle to hold his seat this weekend — was accused of politicising Hawke’s death.

“A rare combination of thoughtless, tactless, heartless, clueless and tasteless,” The Monthly’s Richard Cooke tweeted.

Olympian Nova Peris tweeted: “What an awful statement. Shame on you.”

Many Labor figures rebuked suggestions Hawke held Liberal sentiments, with federal senator and former NSW premier and Kristina Keneally noting the Liberals had opposed Bob Hawke on several signature policies.

“[Tony Abbott] is wrong on the facts and so wrong in his sentiment,” she said.

PM, Shorten criticise Abbott

Prime Minister Scott Morrison criticised Mr Abbott’s statement.

“Well, they’re not the words I obviously used,” he said.

“I think everyone was seeking to be generous about that.

“I mean, a Liberal saying that, I would hope, would not seek to be partisan.

“I think it was more about a broad spectrum of views he was able to embrace … and that’s certainly how I choose to look at that.”

Speaking on ABC News Breakfast, Labor leader Bill Shorten chuckled as he repeated Mr Abbot’s “Liberal head” statement.

“I suspect Tony Abbott is a man under pressure,” Mr Shorten said.

“I know Bob, I don’t think he would’ve paid too much attention to what Tony Abbott said to be honest.”

Mr Abbott later posted a photo of himself and Hawke from 2015, extending condolences to his family but making no reference to his previous tweet.

“He had a the capacity to reach out to everyone across party lines. He was a great Australian,” he wrote.

“Margie and I extend our deepest sympathies to Blanche and his family.”

Topics:

political-parties,

government-and-politics,

federal-election,

federal-elections,

nsw,

sydney-2000

First posted

May 17, 2019 08:23:17