25 Jan 2016

Tony Abbott's supporters insist he's no Rudd

8:57 am on 25 January 2016

Tony Abbott's supporters are moving to crush comparisons with his predecessor Kevin Rudd after the former Australian prime minister revealed he would be recontesting the federal seat of Warringah at the next election.

Tony Abbott speaks at a press conference today in Canberra.

Tony Abbott has confirmed he will recontest the federal seat of Warringah. Photo: AAP

Mr Abbott had previously said he wanted to take time off from politics to spend more time with his family.

But in a statement, he confirmed he would recontest the seat, saying his colleagues had encouraged him to stay in politics after leaving the prime ministership last year.

"I have been heartened by the support and encouragement I've received to continue to serve the country as a member of Parliament," he said.

"Should I be renominated and elected, I am looking forward to working with Premier Mike Baird to ensure that the Warringah Peninsula gets better transport links to the rest of Sydney."

Former employment minister Eric Abetz was quick to defend the move, denying Mr Abbott was like Mr Rudd, who returned to the prime ministership three years after he lost the leadership to Julia Gillard, only to lose the ensuing federal election to Mr Abbott.

"Tony Abbott is absolutely no Kevin Rudd," Senator Abetz told AM.

"Kevin Rudd was always about one thing only, Kevin Rudd, whereas Tony Abbott has always been about one thing, namely the Australian people."

A spokesman for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told the ABC the Liberal Party was "totally obsessed with itself" following Mr Abbott's announcement.

"As hard as Malcolm Turnbull tries to get rid of Tony Abbott, he just can't," the spokesman said.

"He's worse than the Terminator, he just keeps coming back."

Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd.

Kevin Rudd returned to the prime ministership three years after he lost the leadership to Julia Gillard. Photo: RNZ

Senator Abetz downplayed Mr Abbott's leadership aspirations.

"It should not be destabilising for anybody that an elected parliamentarian aged only 58 is deciding to continue in his service to the Australian people," he said.

Senator Abetz, who recently called for Mr Abbott's reinstatement to the ministry, added the former prime minister's decision was not motivated by personal ambition.

"Mr Abbott always saw the privilege of leadership as part of his service to the Australian people, so this is not something that has manically driven him during his parliamentary career."

Mr Abbott has served as the Liberal MP for the northern Sydney seat for 22 years, which he said had been "a great honour".

"I hope to retain their trust and confidence," he said.

He served as prime minster for almost two years, but was ousted last September when current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull challenged for the Liberal Party leadership.