Tony Abbott spoke at around 8:30pm on Saturday evening at Manly Leagues Club, after losing his seat of Warringah to independent Zali Steggall. Here's what he said:
Now I’m going to do something which I did 25 years ago in a earlier speech at this club, and that was the speech I gave in my preselection. I’m going to move this lectern out of the way.
Well, first I want to say to all of you that tonight we’ve got good news and yes, we’ve got a little bit of bad news. But the good news is much more important than the bad news. The good news is that there is every chance that the Liberal-National Coalition has won this election.
This is a really extraordinary result. It is a stupendous result. It is a great result for Scott Morrison and the rest of the wider Liberal team and Scott Morrison will now quite rightly enter the Liberal pantheon forever.
So of course it’s disappointing for us here in Warringah. But what matters is what’s best for the country. And what’s best for the country is not so much who wins or loses Warringah, but who forms or does not form a government in Canberra. And tonight we can be extraordinarily confident, more confident than we ever had any right to expect, that we will have continued good Liberal-National government.
Now, I have to say that once we had the result in the Wentworth by-election six months or so back, I always knew it was going to be tough here in Warringah. And I can’t say that it doesn’t hurt to lose. But I decided back then in October of last year that if I had to lose, so be it. I’d rather be a loser than a quitter.
I do acknowledge the fierce and ultimately successful campaign that has been waged by political opponents in this speech. I do congratulate Zali Steggall on what is a magnificent win for her. And I hope that she will have a long and successful career as local member that the people of Warringah deserve.
I think we can see that there is something of a realignment of politics going on right around this country. It’s clear that in what might be described as working seats, we are doing so much better. It’s also clear that in at least some of what might be described as wealthy seats, we are doing it tough and the Green Left is doing better.
But the truth is that if you believe that the most important thing is to raise people up, if you believe that the most important thing is to give people a better life, the fact that so many people in seats that might be thought of as doing it tough are now looking to our party for leadership is a great tribute and great credit.
Over the next few days and weeks I suspect there will be a great deal of analysis of the part that climate change did or did not play in the Warringah outcome. And let me just say this as my first word, if not necessarily my last word on this subject. Where climate change is a moral issue we Liberals do it tough. Where climate change is an economic issue, as tonight shows, we do very, very well.
It’s often said that all public lives end badly. But I’m certainly not going to let one bad day spoil 25 great years. I’m incredibly proud of all that I’ve done. Obviously there are some things that, with the wisdom of hindsight, might have been done differently and better. But I’ve got to say that I can look back on the last 25 years, and I do look back on the last 25 years, with immense pride and satisfaction.
And I’m incredibly proud of the fact that I am one of just four people in history who has led our party from opposition into government in Canberra and I hope that the Morrison government has such a long life that it’s a long time till there is a fifth.
Finally are some thankyous. I don’t believe that the Warringah campaign could have done more or done better. I think every aspect of our campaign was as good as it humanly could have been under the circumstances. I want to thank Peter O’Hanlon for his outstanding job. I want to thank Michelle Moffitt for her outstanding work as the deputy. And I thank Roger Corbett, a really great Australian, for coming into the team as my conference president. And I thank my staff. I could not have had a better, more loyal and more professional staff, particularly Sam Jackson-Hope.
I thank my family. Margie you have been a wonderfully supportive spouse. I thank my children, two of whom can’t be here tonight but one of whom did a wonderful job of winning votes up at Allambie Heights School today.
I thank my mum. We are all what our parents made us. And I thank my sisters, all three of whom were booth captains today. For the first time ever, politics has finally become a family business, just as I bow out.
Finally, I do want to say a big thank you to the people of Warringah. I could not have achieved anything in public life but for the support that the people of Warringah have given me over 25 great years. My public life will I imagine go on. My life as member for Warringah will not. But Warringah is the place where I live. It’s the place I will continue to serve. And I look forward to many many more years living, working and serving in the greatest part of the greatest city of the greatest country on earth.