Political lobby group GetUp has pulled a satirical campaign advertisement depicting Tony Abbott as a lifeguard ignoring pleas to help someone drowning, after a barrage of criticism.
The YouTube ad, which aimed to critique the embattled Warringah MP's stance on climate change, went live just days after a spate of drownings over the Easter long weekend.
It featured a red budgy-smuggler clad Abbott impersonator refusing to help a struggling swimmer at the beach, drawing swift criticism from lifesaving authorities and Mr Abbott himself, who demanded an apology to Australia's lifeguards.
GetUp said in a statement it had listened to the Royal Life Saving Society's concerns and would pull the controversial ad before it began airing in cinemas next week.
The statement said the progressive lobby group had "the greatest respect for Australia's lifesavers" and apologised for "the insensitivity of the timing and subject matter" of the ad.
"The intention of our campaign is to focus on Tony Abbott's callous inaction on climate change, at a time when the World Health Organisation warns the annual death toll from climate change will reach 250,000 a year," it said.
Mr Abbott, a longtime surf lifesaving volunteer on Sydney's northern beaches, said in a tweet on Wednesday morning that GetUp "should apologise to Australia's 150,000 plus surf lifesavers for mocking what they do".
In the campaign video, the Abbott lifeguard character is seen eating an onion while sitting in a deckchair on the sand as a member of the public rushes up to alert him, "Someone's drowning!".
"Ah look, I think you'll find that the science isn't settled on that," the man responds.
"Why should we act first? I think I've given you the response you deserve."
Mr Abbott is fighting to save his seat against the threat from independent Zali Steggall, who denies any link with GetUp but has benefited from its bid to oust the former prime minister.
Both the lobby group and Ms Steggall have made Mr Abbott's record on climate change central to their campaigns.
The GetUp statement said its replacement ad, depicting Mr Abbott laughing along with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton about "water lapping at [the] door" of the Pacific Islands, would "better accomplish" the campaign's goal.
The new ad is based on footage captured in 2015, when Mr Abbott and Mr Dutton were caught unawares by a low-hanging microphone that captured them joking about the plight of Pacific Island nations facing rising seas from climate change.
- SMH/The Age