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‘I have no recall’: Tony Abbott doesn’t remember if George Pell asked him for a reference

Tony Abbott claims he has “no recall” of being asked to provide a reference for convicted paedophile George Pell.

The former prime minister has come under fire since admitting to Macquarie Radio that he phoned Cardinal Pell after his guilty verdict was revealed last week.

Another former prime minister, John Howard, has been slammed for a glowing reference he gave after Pell’s conviction.

Mr Abbott tells Ray Hadley he doesn’t remember being asked to do the same.

“I honestly don’t know whether I was asked to provide a reference or not,” he says.

“I have no recall of being asked to provide a reference.”

Ray Hadley led the criticism of the former PMs, saying they “have made gross errors of judgement” in supporting Pell.

But Mr Abbott is standing by that decision.

“When it comes to the phone call, I’m not a fair-weather friend.

“This was someone who was obviously going through a very, very bad experience.

“He has been a friend of mine for a long time and at a time like this, you’ve got to feel for people.

“You’ve got to feel for the victims… you’ve got to feel for the people who are dismayed at this verdict.”

Click PLAY below to hear the full interview

Mr Abbott also spoke about the exodus of federal ministers, saying governments “need renewal and they need continuity”.

“People like Julie Bishop and Christopher Pyne going, that’s renewal,” he says.

“And people like me staying, that’s continuity. So what more can I say.”