University of Oxford
Philosophy, Politics and Economics
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Tony Abbott is the 28th and current Prime Minister of Australia. He has held this position since 2013, and been Leader of the Liberal Party since 2009. Abbott is the Member of Parliament representing the Sydney-based Division of Warringah, having first been elected at a 1994 by-election.
Abbott was born in London, United Kingdom, to an Australian mother and a British father, and emigrated to Sydney with his parents in 1960 at the age of three. Prior to entering parliament, he studied for a Bachelor of Economics and a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Sydney. He then attended Queen's College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, where he graduated in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and in 1989 with a Master of Arts in PPE.
Following his time in Britain, Abbott returned to Australia and joined the priesthood. In 1984, aged 26, he entered St Patrick's Seminary, Manly. Abbott did not complete his studies at the seminary and left the institution in 1987. Interviewed prior to the 2013 election, Abbott said of his time as a trainee priest: "The Jesuits had helped to instil in me this thought that our calling in life was to be, to use the phrase: 'a man for others'. And I thought then that the best way in which I could be a 'man for others' was to become a priest. I discovered pretty soon that I was a bit of a square peg in a round hole ... eventually working out that, I'm afraid, I just didn't have what it took to be an effective priest."
Following this, Abbott worked in journalism, briefly ran a concrete plant, and began to get involved in national politics. Throughout his time as a student and seminarian, he was writing articles for newspapers and magazines—first for Honi Soit (the University of Sydney student newspaper) and later The Catholic Weekly and national publications such as The Bulletin. He eventually became a journalist and wrote for The Australian.
In 1992, Abbott was appointed director of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, a position he held until his election to parliament in 1994. He was first appointed to Cabinet following the 1998 election, as part of the Second Howard Ministry, becoming Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business. In 2003, he became Minister for Health and Ageing, retaining this position until the defeat of the Howard Government at the 2007 election. Initially serving in the Shadow Cabinets of Brendan Nelson and then Malcolm Turnbull, he resigned from the frontbench in November 2009 in protest against Turnbull's support for the Rudd Government's proposed Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Forcing a leadership ballot on the subject, Abbott defeated Turnbull by 42 votes to 41 to become the party's leader and Leader of the Opposition.
Abbott led the Coalition at the 2010 election, which resulted in a hung parliament. Following negotiations, Labor formed a Government with the support of one Greens MP and three independent MPs. Abbott was re-elected as Liberal Leader unopposed. He went on to lead the Coalition to victory at the 2013 election and was sworn in as the 28th Prime Minister of Australia on 18 September 2013.