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Australia's embattled leader has long history of gaffes

Suppositories to sexism: Australia's gaffe-prone leader faces another leadership challenge

Australia's embattled leader has long history of gaffes

SYDNEY (AP) -- Australia's embattled prime minister is facing the second challenge to his position this year, as his 2-year-old conservative coalition government struggles in opinion polls. Tony Abbott has a history of gaffes that have done little to improve his standing with the public and have prompted many to question his leadership abilities. A look at some of those moments:

-- August 2013: Abbott prompts laughter during an election campaign speech by telling a gathering of conservative party faithful that no one is "the suppository of all wisdom." The Rhodes scholar apparently meant to say "repository."

-- October 2014: Abbott is accused of sounding embarrassingly crass and overly macho after threatening to "shirtfront" Russia's president during an international summit of leaders. A shirtfront is a shoulder charge to an opponent's chest in Australian football. Russian officials ridicule the threat and warn that President Vladimir Putin is a judo expert.

-- December 2014: A man who once rated sex appeal as a political asset of a female Liberal candidate does little to improve his image problem among women after saying his government's biggest achievement for women in 2014 was abolishing a tax on the nation's worst carbon polluters. "As many of us know, women are particularly focused on the household budget," Abbott said, "and the repeal of the carbon tax means a $550 a year benefit for the average family." The remarks echoed a similar comment he made in 2010 as opposition leader, when he said an emissions trading scheme would hurt housewives. "What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially, it's going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up," Abbott said.

-- January 2015: Abbott raises the ire of many Australians by making Queen Elizabeth II's 93-year-old husband, Prince Philip, an Australian knight on Australia's national day. Born in London, Abbott is a great admirer of British royalty, but giving such an honor to a foreign citizen who already has a long list of titles alienated even some monarchists.

-- February 2015: Abbott apologizes for comparing the opposition party leader to German World War II-era propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels -- the second Nazi-related comment he withdrew in a month. After tellling Parliament that Labor Party leader Bill Shorten was "the Dr. Goebbels of economic policy," Abbott immediately withdrew the comment as opposition lawmakers shouted in protest. A few weeks earlier, Abbott apologized for describing a 10 percent reduction in defense industry jobs under a former Labor government as a "holocaust of jobs."

-- February 2015: Bowing to pressure from his own party, Abbott officially ditches his unpopular parental leave policy, a signature component of his election campaign. The plan would have paid women who earn up to 100,000 Australian dollars ($71,000) a year the equivalent of their full salary for six months of maternity leave. The policy was widely seen as unfair to the poor and had virtually no support within the government.

-- March 2015: Abbott angers indigenous Australians when he describes living in government-funded remote communities as a lifestyle choice. Abbott made the comments when backing a plan to close more than 100 remote communities in Western Australia, saying, "What we can't do is endlessly subsidize lifestyle choices." Indigenous leaders and political opponents branded Abbott's remarks outrageously racist.

Updated : 2021-09-20 03:56 GMT+08:00