Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott Loses His Seat in Australia’s General Election

May 18, 2019 Updated: May 18, 2019

One of Australia’s most controversial political leaders lost his seat in the nation’s federal election on May 18.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has confirmed former Prime Minister Tony Abbott will lose his seat to Independent Candidate and former Olympic Skier Zali Steggall.

The former centre-right Liberal National Coalition leader had served as the federal member for Warringah since 1994 and was prime minister between 2013 and 2015.

Australia's former Prime Minister and Warringah Liberal candidate Tony Abbott is joined on stage by family members after conceding defeat at Manly Leagues Club in Brookvale, Sydney
Australia’s former Prime Minister and Warringah Liberal candidate Tony Abbott is joined on stage by family members after conceding defeat at Manly Leagues Club in Brookvale, Sydney, Australia, on May 18, 2019. (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi/via Reuters)

When more than 42 percent of votes were counted at 8:45 p.m. local time, Abbott had 40.4 percent of the primary vote compared to Steggall’s 59.5 percent.

Abbott conceded defeat after learning news of the major swing away from the ruling coalition, saying he was “disappointed” to lose his seat and there was “every chance” the coalition’s Scott Morrison could still return as prime minister.

“It’s disappointing for us here in Warringah but what matters is what’s best for the country,” Abbott told the Australian Associated Press (AAP). “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 … I’d rather be a loser than a quitter.”

Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash is also optimistic about the Morrison government’s chances to returning to power.

“The primary vote is clearly an issue,” Cash told Seven News.

Abbott’s former Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin, was surprised by the big swing.

“I would have thought it would be a little bit tighter than this—it looks like it’s real trouble,” Credlin told Sky News.

Steggall enjoyed a rock star reception to her victory party at the Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific where she said the people had “definitely voted for the future.”

“We’ve worked very hard for the past four months to make this happen—I think it’s democracy,” she told the AAP. “Politics in Australia has not been at its best for the past 10 years and it’s time we changed that. I really take that on board and I take great responsibility for that.”

Labor Opposition Frontbencher Anthony Albanese described Steggall’s win over Abbott as a “slaughter.”

“It’s probably a good thing for the Liberal Party that Tony Abbott is not in the caucus room,” Albanese told Nine News.

The election campaign has been “pretty ugly” according to Abbott, after a 62-year-old man was accused of stabbing a 31-year-old coalition volunteer in the stomach with a corkscrew on May 17.

The volunteer had been setting up campaign material outside the Balgowlah Heights Public School just after 8 p.m. local time when his alleged attacker approached him, yelled, and tore down the banners.

Paramedics treated the volunteer who did not require hospital treatment. Police arrested a male suspect at Balgowlah Heights about 10.30 p.m. and transported him to Manly Police Station where he was charged with two counts of common assault.

The suspect is scheduled to face the Manly Local Court on June 5.

A book filled with faeces was previously found outside of Abbott’s electoral office in Manly.