Why Abbott’s wife missed his big night
Margie Abbott was surprisingly absent from husband Tony's gala tribute last night following a lumpectomy at St Vincent's Hospital.
MC Alan Jones revealed to the audience of more than 1000 in Terrey Hills that Mrs Abbott could not be present because she had undergone the procedure to remove a lump of breast tissue.
Mr Jones added she was "recovering well".
Mr Abbott later said "all of you are quite rightly anxious but I just want you to know, within two days of being diagnosed she walked 100 miles.
"She is one tough woman and she will get through this."
In 2014 Mrs Abbott said her grandmother had died from breast cancer, adding it had spurred her to place greater importance on having a mammogram every year.
Tributes to Mr Abbott, the 28th prime minister, were led by the 30th, Scott Morrison, and the 25th John Howard.
Another former PM, Malcolm Turnbull, was not there.
"How good is Tony Abbott," Mr Morrison said.
Service was "what Tony has always been about."
The PM said Mr Abbott saw the threat of Islamic State before other western leaders and "took the aspirations of indigenous Australians to heart".
Also, his "passion and success in bringing back our Australian sons and daughters who were killed on MH17 when it was shot down over the Ukraine was one of his finest moments".
Mr Howard used his speech to express his gratitude to Mr Abbott for returning the Coalition to government via "tremendous leadership".
He highlighted Mr Abbott's success as PM in stopping the influx of asylum seeker boats.
"Tony Abbott was undoubtedly a great political winner," Mr Howard said.
Mr Abbott told the gathering that leading the Liberals for six years and the country for two was "the greatest honour of my life".
He said his government was a "good faith effort" to help the country be the best it could be.
Mr Abbott was a minister in the Howard government from 1998 until it was voted out in 2007.
Succeeding Mr Turnbull, he became Opposition Leader in 2009 and swept to power at the 2013 election.
Two years later he was deposed by Mr Turnbull.
Mr Abbott held the seat of Warringah for a quarter of a century before independent Zali Stegall defeated him at the May 18 election.
Tribute dinners are a Liberal Party tradition.
One for Mr Turnbull is expected to be held early next year.
It is likely to be on a far lesser scale than Mr Abbott's.