Tiddly Tony WAS too drunk to vote, Australia's PM confirms
Australia's prime minister has confirmed one of Canberra's worst-kept political secrets: h is predecessor and party rival Tony Abbott was once too drunk to vote in parliament.
Malcolm Turnbull told Melbourne Radio 3AW on Friday that he was opposition leader in 2009 when Mr Abbott was incapable of voting against government legislation to massively increase economic stimulus spending.
Mr Abbott replaced Mr Turnbull as leader of the conservative Liberal Party late in 2009 and became prime minister before Mr Turnbull ousted him in a party ballot in 2015.
Mr Turnbull told the truth over the episode after reports that Mr Abbott has finally confessed to being too drunk to vote in a television interview being shown on September 5.
"I was disappointed, but you've got to move on with these things," Mr Turnbull told Melbourne Radio 3AW of Mr Abbott's inebriation.
"I can't remember anyone else missing a vote because they were too drunk to get into the chamber."
Mr Abbott said he had gone to sleep on his office sofa after drinking wine with two party colleagues.
"The impact was rather greater than it should have been," the Herald Sun newspaper quoted him as saying.
"I lay down, and the next thing knew it was morning."
Mr Turnbull said party whips could not wake Mr Abbott.
"There was nothing we could do," he said.
"The whips tried to rouse him to get him down into the chamber to vote but they were unable to move him."
Mr Turnbull said the need for MPs to attend every vote was now even greater, since the ruling coalition has a single-seat majority in the House of Representatives, where parties need a majority to govern.
Mr Abbott previously said he had missed the vote because he was tired after days of working as a volunteer firefighter, and dismissed a journalist's question of whether he had been drunk as "impertinent".
He remains a government MP and retains strong support from his party's hard-right faction.
He has become a vocal critic of the Turnbull administration's policy direction, as the government lags behind the centre-left opposition Labor Party in successive opinion polls.
Both are now on opposite sides of Australia's gay marriage debate. Mr Abbott is campaigning against same-sex marriage before a national postal survey on the subject next month, while Mr Turnbull supports marriage equality.