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Australian Associated Press

Australian Associated Press was formed in 1935 as the national news agency of Australia. Today AAP is Australia's largest independent originator and aggregator of news and information, serving the media, government, business and financial markets.

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Photo File: Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses the Sydney Institute on Tuesday, February 20, 2018. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito) NO ARCHIVING

Photo File: Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses the Sydney Institute on Tuesday, February 20, 2018. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito) NO ARCHIVING

FED:Abbott continues attack, urges respect

Date: Fri 23 Feb 2018

CANBERRA, Feb 23 AAP - Tony Abbott has launched a blistering attack on his own party colleagues, saying if it weren't for him the coalition would not be in government.

After being slapped down for suggesting cuts to immigration, the former leader says he is qualified to offer advice to the government, and that ministers should take it.

"But for my efforts in 2010 and 2013, (Malcolm) Turnbull wouldn't be in office and his ministers wouldn't be in office, so I think they should listen with a degree of respect," Mr Abbott told 2GB on Friday.

"They are not such geniuses they are the possessors of all political and economic wisdom."

Liberal Party MPs have criticised Mr Abbott after he called for Australia's permanent migration intake to be slashed by 80,000 places per year to 110,000.

Mr Abbott says his party and the government ought to be capable of sensible debate on immigration, with its first duty to the people in Australia, not those who may come one day.

Mr Abbott also penned an opinion piece for The Australian on Friday, naming and shaming his critics, including Acting Prime Minister Mathias Cormann.

The former PM said he wasn't going to "cop gratuitous criticism" by letting his colleagues take pot shots.

"You'd think a government that's lost the past 27 Newspolls might be curious about how it could lift its game," Mr Abbott wrote.

Treasurer Scott Morrison disputed Mr Abbott's claim he was solely responsible for the coalition being in power.

"We were part of that team that made that happen and we all made our contributions," Mr Morrison said in Sydney.

"I know quite a lot about immigration issues, and we've been running a very strong policy in that area," he added.

Mr Cormann said while Mr Abbott was entitled to his view, so were his colleagues.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo this week described Mr Abbott's position as "lazy" and "inaccurate", but on Friday said he didn't want to get into a tit-for-tat on immigration.

"Let's not pretend this is about numbers of immigrants. The fact is Australia is a richer country because of immigration," he told Sky News from Washington, where he is with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Australian Conservatives leader Cory Bernardi said Mr Abbott had "chapter and verse" adopted his party's immigration policy.

"I'm always happy to have converts. Tony's a bit late to the party but I'm happy to have him on board," he said.

Source: AAP Australian General News