Tony Abbott: Now not the time to change leaders

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has admitted he has made too many 'captain's calls' on issues like paid parental leave and the awarding of a knighthood to Prince Philip.

But Mr Abbott sent a clear message to disgruntled backbenchers, saying now was not the time to change the Liberal Party's leadership, despite his plunging popularity.

Mr Abbott is under enormous pressure after a huge swing against the LNP in Queensland which looks like giving the ALP an unthinkable victory.

LNP MPs have openly blamed the PM for some of the losses with his decision to award a knighthood to Duke of Edinburgh featuring negatively at the polling booths.

Mr Abbott was accused by a reporter of failing to honour repeated commitments to consult widely with his MPs before making decisions.

"I accept a Paid Parental Leave Scheme was a captain's call,'' Mr Abbott said.

He also admitted the awarding of the knighthood was another 'captain's call'.

"But I have listened, I have learnt and I have acted,'' Mr Abbott said, vowing that in future all honours would be handled by the proper authorities, not him personally.

Mr Abbott said Australia was living in difficult times and now was not the time to change Prime Ministers.

"When things are difficult, the last thing you want to do is make difficult things worse,'' he said.

Later, Mr Abbott said: "The Howard Government went through many difficult patches.''

"I can remember John Howard from time to time standing up in the party room and saying things could get worse were they get better and he said this will be a test of character.

"I've said much the same thing myself in the party room on different occasions. This will be a test of character. Now politicians pass the test when they do what is best for the long-term, not when they give in to short-term fear and make a difficult situation worse.

"That's the situation. Sure, we've had a bad patch, what do you do when you have a bad patch? You can buckle down to business or not, but failing to buckle down to business always makes a bad situation worse.

"So that's the conversation that I've had with many of my colleagues.

"As for Julie (Bishop), she's a friend of mine, Julie's my deputy, she's been a terrific deputy, been a terrific Minister, I believe I have her full support and I certainly look forward to continuing to that have ... that."

Mr Abbott, whose personal approval rating has slumped to 27%, was asked why he thinks his approval rating is so low.

"I never came into politics to be popular. And anyone who does come into politics to be popular will either be a very bad politician or a very disappointed politician,'' he said in response.

"I came into politics to make a difference, to do the right thing by the people of Australia, someone has to make the difficult calls and it is never easy to make the difficult calls."


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