t was a defining moment of the 2017 same-sex marriage campaign. You could almost feel the tectonic shift.

The Turnbull government had announced the details of the ABS survey, and former prime minister Tony Abbott had called a press conference to reiterate his firm opposition and urge Australians to reject it.

“If you don’t like same-sex marriage, vote No. If you worry about freedom of speech and freedom of religion, vote No, and if you don’t like political correctness vote No because this is the best way to stop it in its tracks.”

Wham bam.

Equality advocates quivered, opponents sat up and journalists cooed. This was classic Abbott — the pugilist, rhetorician and master of the effective line. “Cut through,” as the ABC’s Andrew Probyn put it on 7.30.

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