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"Not Acceptable Or Admirable": Turnbull Slams Abbott For Being Too Drunk To Vote

The former prime minister admitted he had fallen asleep on a couch during a crucial GFC bailout vote in 2009.

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The year is 2009. The world is in the midst of the Global Financial Crisis. This guy is prime minister.

Kevin Rudd.
Bradley Kanaris / Getty Images

Kevin Rudd.

This guy is opposition leader.

Malcolm Turnbull.
Sergio Dionisio / Getty Images

Malcolm Turnbull.

And this guy is a shadow minister.

Tony Abbott
Ryan Pierse / Getty Images

Tony Abbott

Australia's new Labor government is in the process of trying to soften the GFC blow to the Australian economy by spending big and injecting $42 billion into infrastructure and other things to keep the economy moving.

Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition are opposed to the big spending, and so when the legislation is before parliament in the early months of 2009, it is fiercely debated in parliament.

But shadow minister and future prime minister Tony Abbott is missing from several key votes on the legislation. Where was Tony?

Ten / Via

Rumours always swirled around parliament that he had enjoyed a boozy evening on the night of voting. In fact, in 2013, then treasurer Wayne Swan called Abbott out for it in Question Time, only to be asked to withdraw the comment.

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"And indeed, the leader of the opposition slept right through the vote," Swan said. "He was drunk! And didn't come into the House."

Abbott's absence didn't affect the outcome of the vote anyway, and the stimulus package passed through parliament without him.

Four years later, Abbott now appears to have revealed what happened. Abbott reportedly retells the story in an upcoming episode of The House With Annabel Crabb.

On the night of the GFC bailout vote, Abbott said he was having "quite a few bottles of wine" with former treasurer Peter Costello, and former minister and cycling aficionado Kevin Andrews in the dining room reserved for members of parliament.

"I think all of us were in a mellow and reflective mood, so the reflections went on for longer, and later, than they should have," he said. "The impact was rather greater than it should have been.

"I lay down, and the next thing I knew it was morning."

ABC / Via

Current prime minister Malcolm Turnbull on Friday morning expressed frustration with his former shadow minister, and the prime minister he usurped for missing the vote.

Turnbull said at the time the whips tried to rouse him to get him to the chamber to vote, but "they were unable to move him".

"I was disappointed, but you've got to move on with these things," he said. "It's clearly not acceptable or admirable in any way."

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Annabel Crabb will feature in Is it on?, BuzzFeed Australia’s podcast. You can listen to it from Friday. View it on iTunes and subscribe here.

Josh Taylor is a Senior Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Josh Taylor at

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