Turnbull and I owe Morrison: Abbott

Jodie Stephens
Tony Abbott has been lauded as 'a servant of our nation' at a dinner held in his honour in Sydney

Tony Abbott says he and Malcolm Turnbull owe current Prime Minister Scott Morrison a "tremendous debt" after his election victory.

The former prime minister took a moment to thank Mr Morrison at a Sydney tribute dinner in Mr Abbott's honour, attended by some of the biggest names in Australian politics on Thursday night.

He said Mr Morrison had saved the federal government from being judged "an embarrassing failure" with his "near miraculous" win in May.

"Had we lost this election, this government would have been judged an embarrassing failure," Mr Abbott said.

"So I might have started it - but frankly Scott, you have saved it.

"And for that, I do not normally bracket myself with Malcolm Turnbull, but Malcolm Turnbull and I both owe you a tremendous debt."

Mr Abbott, who lost his Warringah seat to Independent MP Zali Steggall at the same election, was lauded as "a servant of our nation" who has lived his life for others at the dinner celebrating his political career.

Guests included Mr Morrison and former prime minister John Howard, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and federal frontbenchers Josh Frydenberg, Peter Dutton and Angus Taylor.

Mr Abbott's wife, Margie, couldn't be there as she was recovering in hospital from a lumpectomy, the crowd heard.

"All of you, I think are quite rightly anxious but I just wanted you to know that within two days of being diagnosed, she walked 100 miles," Mr Abbott said.

"She is one tough woman and she will get through this."