Liberal leader Tony Abbott’s remarks on national television that he doesn’t always tell the ‘gospel truth’ in the heat of political battle have caused a stir in federal politics.

While shadow treasurer Joe Hockey defended the comments, Labor members seized on the opportunity to question Abbott’s credibility.

Lizzie Stafford reports.

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TRANSCRIPT

Tony Abbott last night admitted he sometimes says things that are not ‘absolutely correct’.

Tony Abbott, Opposition Leader: “Sometimes in the heat of discussion you go a little bit further than you would if it was an absolutely calmed, considered, scripted remark.”

It was a statement he says was made with good intention.

Tony Abbott, Opposition Leader: “I try to be fair dinkum with the Australian public, I really do, and last night I was trying to be fair dinkum with Kerry O’Brien.”

Certainly, Joe Hockey would agree last night defending the opposition leader.

Joe Hockey, Shadow Treasurer: “The thing about Tony Abbott is is he’s a straight talker.”

But senior Labor figures were quick on the attack.

Lindsay Tanner says the comments are a cop out arguing politicians must be held accountable for their words.

Lindsay Tanner, Finance Minister: “For the first time in Australia’s history we’ve got a political leader saying ‘don’t trust what I say, get it in writing’.”

But Tanner then managed to prove Abbott’s point.

He denied making comments two months ago that increasing superannuation payments would reduce take-home pay.

Lindsay Tanner, Finance Minister: “The fact that your employer is forced to put in an extra three per cent in your super means that money that otherwise could have gone into your wages is going into your super. I’m not going to accept that there’s been a backflip.”

Lizzie Stafford, QUT News