Australia's PM Abbott shown using out-of-date map to spot terrorist strongholds

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (Reuters/Danish Siddiqui)
Australian PM Tony Abbott has come under fire for potentially revealing sensitive information to the nation. But there's a funny side to the allegations – the leader was photographed studiously observing an outdated 2014 map of terrorist strongholds.

The picture, taken by Fairfax photographer Alex Ellinghausen on Wednesday, shows the prime minister with Duncan Lewis, director of Australian spy organization ASIO.

The two look like they're in the middle of serious business, pointing to terrorist strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

But when an eagle-eyed observer spotted the map, he realized it wasn't current at all. In fact, it was from a Washington Post article dated June 11, 2014. The map was originally sourced from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Abbott may find it difficult to solve the world's terror problems by referring to an outdated map – because the quick advancement of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) means the terror group has gained large swathes of territory since it was published. In other words, a current map would bear little resemblance to the one Abbott was using for reference.

'Putting politics before security'

But even without the gaffe, Abbott still couldn't catch a break this week. He was accused on Thursday of revealing classified information to journalists during a media event – in a slip-up which also involved a map.

Abbott was once again sat with spy director Duncan Lewis, observing a map which apparently detailed areas of Australia which have become a breeding ground for IS recruits.

The move prompted the Labor party to attempt to move a motion condemning Abbott and the federal government over the incident.

“The House condemns the Prime Minister and the Government for putting politics before the security of Australians,” the motion states, as reported by the Australian Broadcasting Company. “By revealing sensitive information of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation for the sake of a media opportunity.”

But Lewis shot back, stating that the “documents used in the briefing were not the subject of a national security classification.”

"The content of the documents did not compromise national security," he added.

Abbott also spoke out against the allegations, telling the federal opposition: "I would have thought that you would have had more respect for the people running our national security.”

"Members opposite are impugning the professionalism of ASIO...the suggestion from members opposite that the director-general of ASIO would have permitted classified material to be photographed is just ludicrous."

Abbott's long list of gaffes

Map-gate is not the first time Abbott has been caught up in an embarrassing gaffe. In fact, he's had a pretty consistent trail of awkward moments.

In March, an Australian radio host confronted Abbott about his habit of humiliating himself during a liveinterview.

"Mr. Abbott, for a Rhodes scholar, how come you say so many stupid things?” Jon Faine asked the prime minister.

The question came after Abbott infuriated Jewish MPs by calling opposition leader Bill Shorten “Dr. Goebbels of economic policy,” referring to Joseph Goebbels, a Nazi party member and one of Hitler's most devout followers.

In December, Abbott – who is also the minister for women – reinforced gender stereotypes when asked about his greatest contribution in the role. His answer was the repeal of carbon tax, which saves households money, because “women are particularly focused on the household budget.”

READ MORE: Shirtfront: What Abbott threatened to do to Putin becomes word of year in Australia

A couple months prior, the prime minister threatened to “shirtfront” Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Brisbane over Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine in July 2014.

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Shirtfront is an illegal technique in Australian Rules football, meaning a front-on chest bump, shoulder charge or rough handling aimed at knocking your rival backward to the ground.

But when the time for the summit came, Abbott was eating his words after a picture emerged of him cuddling a koala alongside Putin.

Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov confirmed to journalists after the Abbott-Putin interaction that Abbott had in fact “not attempted” to shirtfront the Russian president.

Other Abbott slip-ups include calling Canada “Canadia,” winking while on the telephone with a phone-sex worker, replacing the word “repository” for “suppository,” telling people to vote for the “guy with the not-bad-looking daughters,” and telling soldiers who had lost a comrade in Afghanistan that “s**t happens.”