Abbott says he'll stay on, would have won next election

FORMER Prime Minister Tony Abbott claimed on Tuesday that he could have led the Coalition to an election victory next year if Malcolm Turnbull had not rolled him.

After promising he would not be involved in "sniping" after he lost the leadership, Mr Abbott also implied Mr Turnbull was a "snake".

In his first interview since losing the Liberal ballot, Mr Abbott told 2GB Radio that politics was "a game of snakes and ladders and I've been hit by a snake".

Despite months of poor polling results being a key factor in the spill three weeks ago, Mr Abbott said leaders could be "not especially popular" but still lead an "effective government".

The backbencher also said the "myth" that he was prepared to sack key players in his government to save his own political skin was nonsense.

Mr Abbott defended his prominent chief of staff, Peta Credlin and the former Treasurer Joe Hockey's performance, denying rumours that were circulating a month ago.

"When someone (his critics within the Coalition) is absolutely focused on a particular objective, they're not going to be put off by a few human sacrifices," he said.

Mr Abbott referred to Mr Hockey as an "absolute blood brother" when it came to economic policy and said no one had worked harder than Ms Credlin in his government.

He said he was not planning to leave politics and at the age of "only 57" he still had something to contribute to public life.

Mr Abbott also said no government could achieve anything if they were "subject to death by opinion poll".

He urged Coalition voters to back Mr Turnbull, "even if through gritted teeth".

Acting Opposition Leader Penny Wong seized on Mr Abbott's comment that "nothing had changed" in the government's policies since he was ousted.

She said it was clear from his comments that the policies Labor had criticised had not changed, despite Mr Turnbull's promises many issues would be revisited under his Cabinet.