The Onion That Cost a Party Leadership
June 20, 2017
The Australian political system went from one that was conservative and steady to one that has seen four different prime ministers in the space of four years.
The most controversial of them all was former Liberal Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who served as Premier between 2013 and 2015. Abbott is no stranger to controversy; he once said that he would shirtfront Russian President Vladimir Putin. Shirtfronting is a term used in Australian Rules Football and basically means a blatant foul tackle.
Abbott won the leadership battle against Malcolm Turnbull by one seat and although he did lead his party to electoral victory in 2013, he quickly became a target for mockery due to his stance on climate change and gay couples.
But his strangest moment came in 2015 when he was touring a brown onion farm in Tasmania. Mr Abbott was being shown the sorting process to separate the onions when he astonishingly grabbed one and bit into it, with the skin still on it. The event was televised and people could not believe their eyes as Mr Abbott continued to munch away on the onion while being led on the tour. He did not shed one single tear throughout the whole affair and was even heard on camera saying that it was the best onion he had eaten in a long time.
Not long after the incident, which received domestic and international news coverage, his old rival Malcolm Turnbull challenged him for the leadership and won. Turnbull subsequently won the next election, but Mr Abbott continues to be a thorn in his side, especially with issues related to climate change. To this day, Australian media mark the anniversaries of the day “Tony bit into an onion”. Mr Abbott will perhaps go down in history as the only politician to lose his party leadership due to eating a raw onion.