CANBERRA: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Monday that he had not contemplated stepping down, as pressure mounted on his leadership following his controversial decision to make Britain’s Prince Philip a knight.
Abbott faced ridicule after naming the nonagenarian consort of Queen Elizabeth II a knight of the order of Australia last month, incensing members of his ruling coalition who were already dealing with falling poll numbers, policy back flips and an unpopular budget.
When asked by reporters if he had considered resigning, Abbott said “no” but admitted, “I accept that I probably overdid it on awards”.
He said he believed he was the right person to lead the government after reports that some of his colleagues were under pressure to challenge him.
“Let me make it absolutely crystal clear, we were elected in 2013 because the Australian people rejected chaos. And we are not going to take them back to that chaos,” he told the National Press Club in Canberra.
“It’s the people that hire and frankly it’s the people that should fire.”
Abbott’s Liberal National coalition romped to power in a September 2013 election but is now trailing the opposition Labor Party 46 to 54 percent, a Fairfax Ipsos poll in The Sydney Morning Herald showed Monday.