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Tony Abbott has vowed that if he loses this week’s election he will step down as Opposition Leader.
Appearing on ABC TV’s Kitchen Cabinet, Mr Abbott told host Annabel Crabb: ‘‘I think one thing we can be absolutely certain of is that I won’t be the Opposition Leader after the election’’.
‘‘You will either be doing a lot of gardening ...’’ she replied, ‘‘Or I’ll be very busy for a few years.’’
It is the first time Mr Abbott has publicly acknowledged that he would step aside if he again failed to win a federal election.
Mr Abbott appeared with two of his daughters, Frances and Bridget, and prepared steaks and salad, with a barbecued salmon steak for Crabb.
Ruminating on a tumultuous year in politics, Mr Abbott admitted he had no idea of the impact his now infamous comment about Liberal Lindsay candidate Fiona Scott – that she had ‘‘sex appeal’’ – would have.
‘‘I knew the second he said that, I was just, like, everything we’ve done today is lost,’’ Frances said. ‘‘Because of a stupid comment.’’
Mr Abbott, however, said: ‘‘The truth is I was oblivious, absolutely oblivious, to the fact that I had said something which could be remarked upon.
‘‘Anything you say is going to be parsed, analysed, dissected and if it can possibly be used against you, chances are it will be and that’s just the way it is,’’ Mr Abbott said.
‘‘People say politicians are so stilted these days, they’re so on message these days but the reason why we are so on message and often seem stilted is because the instant you go off piste, as it were, off script, as it were, well, all of a sudden that’s the story.’’
Mr Abbott said while he had been a sometimes ‘‘resident non-conformist’’ under his former leader John Howard, once he became party leader he had no longer had the luxury of having a private view.
‘‘You’ve only got a corporate view and if your colleagues aren’t prepared to at least tolerate it, it’s not a view that you can express. Again, that’s the way it is. That’s the way it is.’’
He did not believe party leaders could push their own private views onto their members or the public.
‘‘You’ve got to accept that there are all sorts of private views which can be passionately held but in a pluralist democracy such as ours the idea that you could somehow make those private views mandatory is bizarre, just bizarre,’’ he said.
‘‘So, you know, this is why I think that ... I think it is essential that someone of faith understand that while faith is a splendid thing in private life it can often be quite a misleading guide in public life.’’
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will appear on Thursday night’s episode, at 8pm on ABC 1.