Australian PM Abbott 'has not considered resigning'

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The speech was seen as a make-or-break moment for the Australian leader

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he has not considered resigning, despite a slump in popularity and growing questions about his leadership.

In a major policy speech, he confirmed the scrapping of a paid parental leave scheme, one of his signature policies.

Mr Abbott admitted he had suffered a couple of months of "hard times".

He has faced criticism for awarding a knighthood to Queen Elizabeth's husband Prince Philip and suffered a shock defeat in state elections.

But he told journalists at the National Press Club in Canberra he believed he was still the best person to lead the country and had not considered quitting.

Referring to the previous Labor government, which struggled with infighting, Mr Abbott said his party was elected in 2013 because "the Australian people rejected chaos".

"And we are not going to take them back to that chaos... Let's also remember what I have said time and time again at the time... Once you go to an election it is the people who 'hire and fire'," he said.

'Times are tough'

He also said he had the full support of his deputy, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Abbott face questions from reporters at the National Press Club
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Julie Bishop, seen as a possible rival to Mr Abbott, spent the day with British officials

"Julie's a friend of mine, Julie's my deputy...I believe I have her full support and I certainly look forward to continuing to have that."

Ms Bishop and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull have been suggested as possible contenders for his job, although both have publicly backed Mr Abbott.

On the paid parental leave scheme, Mr Abbott said it was "off the table" as the country currently could not afford the scheme.

"I admire stay-at-home mums - as [his wife] Margie was when our children were young - but still firmly believe in the need for a better paid parental leave scheme to maximise my daughters' choices to have a career and to have a family too," he said.

"Still, I accept that what's desirable is not always doable especially when times are tough and budgets are tight."

Asked if he would accept a knighthood, he said no, adding: "I think it is highly unlikely I would be offered any particular gong at this time."

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