Abbott, Rudd reunite at Old Parliament

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The last time Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott went head to head it was on the election campaign trail in 2013.

Nine years later, the former prime ministers went head to head once again in front of their toughest crowd yet.

They were met with questions from local primary school children at the reopening of Old Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday.

The home of the Museum of Australian Democracy reopened its doors with the launch of Democracy DNA: The people, the prime ministers and the world exhibition.

The event's host, TV personality and comedian Alex Lee, said it was like "Night at the Museum come to life" as she introduced the former prime ministers.

Mr Rudd spoke about the importance of inclusion in democracy with a positive message for his young audience.

"For all of our young people here, there is nothing to stop you in the world from aspiring to be prime minister of the country. I grew up in a small country town in rural Queensland in a four teacher school. We didn't wear shoes to school," he said.

Mr Abbott reiterated this message.

"It is as Kevin said ... you can do anything, you can be whatever your dreams are. Not everyone can be prime minister but anyone and everyone can aspire to be prime minister," he said.

When asked by the school children what motivated him to become prime minister, Mr Abbott said there were "many steps along the way".

"You make the judgement that you can do something better than the alternative ... I've never regarded myself as God's gift to politics but luckily you don't have to be God's gift to politics. Just definitely better than the next guy."

In answering the same question Mr Rudd joked "someone said to me one time, that politics is 'Hollywood for ugly people'".

Old Parliament House was shut for a number of months after a devastating fire in December 2021 while restoration work was undertaken.

Democracy DNA is a permanent exhibition including illustrations of 30 prime ministers from 1901 to today.

It explores the events that shaped the nation and the stories of the people who created Australia's democracy.

This story is written by the author in a personal capacity.

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