Australia

'Tremendous debt': Turnbull and I owe Scott Morrison, declares Tony Abbott

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott arrive for the tribute dinner. Source: AAP

More than 1,000 guests, including high-profile Liberal figures, have celebrated former prime minister Tony Abbott's 25 years in public life.

Tony Abbott says he and Malcolm Turnbull owe Prime Minister Scott Morrison a "tremendous debt" after his election victory.

An array of current and former Coalition leaders descended on a function centre in Sydney's northern beaches to pay tribute to the former PM with an elaborate dinner hosted by broadcaster Alan Jones.

Mr Morrison, former prime minister John Howard, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian were among the high-profile guests celebrating Mr Abbott's two decades of public life.

Mr Abbott lost the seat of Warringah, which he had held for 25 years, to Independent Zali Steggal in the May federal election.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and former Prime Minister John Howard arrive.

Arriving at the Miramare Gardens estate in Terrey Hills, Mr Abbott received a roaring welcome from the 1,000 or so guests.

His wife, Margie, was notably absent as she recovered from a lumpectomy in hospital.

Mr Abbott thanked Mr Morrison - saying the federal government from being judged "an embarrassing failure" with his "near miraculous" win in May.

He said Mr Morrison had saved "Had we lost this election, this government would have been judged an embarrassing failure," Mr Abbott said.

"So I might have started it - but frankly Scott, you have saved it.

"And for that, I do not normally bracket myself with Malcolm Turnbull, but Malcolm Turnbull and I both owe you a tremendous debt."

The first speaker of the night was a jovial Mr Morrison who praised the former Liberal leader's career in Parliament.

"How good is Tony Abbott?", the prime minister said to cheers and claps from the crowd.

"Don't be too quiet tonight, quiet Australians. I want you to be a bit noisy tonight!"

2GB's Alan Jones hosted the swanky event.

After listing Mr Abbott's achievements as prime minister, which he said included "stopping the boats" and leading Indigenous policy, Mr Morrison joked that he had also "retired Kevin Rudd".

Former PMJohn Howard, who led the country from 1996 to 2007, said Mr Abbott had "destroyed the Labor government within three years". 

"A political leader needs many skills if he is to achieve a lasting impact, but the most important skill he or she needs is the capacity to win - and Tony Abbott was undoubtedly a great political winner," Mr Howard said.

"Your capacity to isolate the issues that mattered to the Australian people, in both 2010 and 2013, and thus overturn the expectations of so many people of the potential longevity of a Labor government."

Mr Abbott was also awarded a lifetime service award by the NSW Liberal Party.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott arrive for the tribute dinner.

In a video tribute, Australia's Ambassador to the US Joe Hockey shared highlights from his "more than 30 years" of friendship with the former member for Warringah.

"The partnership Tony and I had was incredibly successful. We got things done," he said.

His sister, Christine Forster, said Mr Abbott had been "an amazing asset to our country, to our nation".

"I think it's absolutely fantastic that so many people, and so many remarkable people too, have come together tonight to pay tribute to him and to acknowledge the massively significant contribution he's made to this country," she said.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch