The former Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott was farewelled from politics on Thursday evening as thousands of supporters gathered in the grand ballroom of Miramare Gardens on Sydney’s northern beaches to honour his 25-year career, but there was one noticeable absentee as his wife Margie Abbott was unable to attend.
Taking to the stage last night, Abbott revealed that his wife, with whom he shares three daughters, was actually recovering in Sydney’s St Vincent’s hopsital after undergoing a lumpectomy – a procedure to remove cancerous or other abnormal tissue from the breast. According to the Daily Mail, the surgery followed a breast cancer diagnosis.
In a video posted to Facebook by 7News, the former Liberal leader can be heard telling the crowd: “We are all missing Margie tonight who is in Vinnie’s convalescing from unexpected breast surgery and who has been beautifully supportive through all the ups and downs of a long public life.”
He then added: “All of you I think are quite rightly anxious, but i just want you to know that within two days of being diagnosed she walked 100 miles. She is one tough woman and she will get through this!”
Abbott also paid tribute to his mother Fay and three sisters, saying: “My mum who has been lavishing care and love on me for precisely 62 years and three days, thank you mum! My sisters Jane, Pip and of course Chris who paid me the ultimate compliment by following me into public life.”
Several of Abbott’s Liberal colleagues also took to the stage to pay tribute to the retiring politician, praising him for his achievement throughout his long-spanning political career, including former Prime Minister John Howard and current leader Scott Morrison.
“How good is Tony Abbott?” Morrison began his speech, continuing: “in those two years Tony laid the foundation for his government, which is now in his third term A government which gave me the opportunity to serve in his cabinet and I thank him for the privilege.”
He added: “It was my great privilege to work with Tony as we stopped the boars, as we said we would do. No one could have been more resolute and supporting in giving me every resource and every authority necessary.”
He also paid tribute to Margie, saying: “I acknowledge Margie. A woman of great character, tremendous humility, grace, kindness, true accomplishment, in all senses of the word, and a real great sense of style too.
“Tony would describe her, as we all now do, as a conscript, together with Frances, Louise and Bridget, who together they have made great sacrifices to enable Tony to achieve and make the contribution that he has to public life. And we are very grateful for their sacrifice.”
While John Howard said: “Tony and I didn’t always agree on some issues, but you always knew that Tony’s heart was in what he espoused and what he believed in.”
The entire evening was hosted by 2GB’s Alan Jones who also gushed about Abbott on stage, at one point even describing the former PM as a “beautiful human being”.
Following the news, many well-wishers took to social media to wish Margie their best, with one person writing: “Fantastic, wise lady, wishing her all the best for her recovery.”
Another wrote: “I gotta say, when I worked for The Smith Family, Margie Abbott came to several of our events while Tony was PM and she was very impressive. On one occasion, she was driving herself (which in itself speaks to her character that she wouldn’t get a ComCar or similar) to an event…” While another said: “All strength and healing to you, Margie Abbott.”