Abbott will not boycott Alan Jones
OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott says Alan Jones's comments about Julia Gillard's father were "offensive" and "unacceptable", but he will continue to appear on the shock jock's high-rating radio program.
Mr Abbott spoke to reporters in Raymond Terrace as the fallout continued from Mr Jones's comments, in which he said the Prime Minister's father had died of shame.
He made the comment during a speech to a Sydney University Liberal Club function. He called a snap press conference on Sunday to apologise.
Asked if he would boycott Mr Jones's program, Mr Abbott said he was "not in the business of ignoring a big audience".
"My job every day is to reach out to the people of Australia and to reassure them that we are a great country and a great people let down at the moment by bad government," Mr Abbott said.
"So, I am certainly not going to ignore an audience of half a million people in Sydney. I never have and I never will."
Mr Abbott also scoffed at the suggestion - made by a number of prominent Labor MPs - he was in part to blame for Mr Jones's comments.
He said the government blamed him for "everything".
"Someone gets a flat tyre on the way to work, well, that is Tony Abbott's fault. If the Government misses out on the UN Security Council vote, we can be confident that that is Tony Abbott's fault," he said.
"But I do want to make it clear that, as far as I'm concerned, as far as my Coalition colleagues are concerned, what Alan Jones said was wrong, unacceptable, offensive. He's admitted that.
"He's apologised. He's tried to make that apology personally to the Prime Minister and, look, I just think it's very important that we conduct our political debate in civil language and that is my resolve and it should be the resolve of everyone else."
Mr Abbott said it was matter for the Prime Minister whether she took Mr Jones's call.
He also called for a return to civility in political debate.
"I sometimes regret the deeply personal tone that creeps into some of our political debate," he said.
"As far as is humanly possible I have tried to avoid that nasty personal tone. Occasionally, all of us go a bit over the top and whenever I've been responsible for saying what I shouldn't have said, I think I've always tried to do the decent thing and apologise."
Earlier Mr Jones used his morning program to tell his detractors they had "picked the wrong bloke" if they though he could be silenced.
He said his critics' "unbridled hatred" was fuelled by jealousy.
His defence came as more advertisers withdrew their support from Mr Jones's program.
Hyundai, Honda and Telstra joined a growing list sponsors to pull their advertising dollars from 2GB, although many expect the boycott to be temporary.
It came as an online petition calling on advertisers to pull their support from Mr Jones's program eclipsed 90,000 people.