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Tony Abbott embarrassed by gaffe over dead Australian soldier

Tony Abbott, the Australian opposition leader has been embarrassed after footage emerged showing him saying "---- happens" after an Australian soldier was killed in Afghanistan.

Mr Abbott was on a visit last year to Tarin Kowt, where Australian troops are stationed, when he made the apparent gaffe. Weeks earlier, Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney, 28, had been shot dead in a battle with Taliban insurgents.

He was discussing the tragedy and the type of equipment provided to troops in the region with US Commander James Creighton when he was filmed saying: "It's pretty obvious that, well, sometimes ---- happens, doesn't it?"

Mr Abbott has said that his comment was taken out of context and that he would never make light of the death of an Australian soldier.

However, he said that he had called Lance Corporal MacKinney's widow to discuss the matter with her and there were "no issues between us".

Mr Abbott, who is known for his straight-talking style, was visibly angry when confronted with the footage by Channel Seven News, which had obtained the video through a freedom of information request.

During an interview in Canberra he was rendered speechless for about 20 seconds, before accusing the network of "trying to turn this into a subsequent media circus".

Mr Abbott had managed to avoid making any serious gaffes since coming within a whisker of winning government in August. Before the election he had been known as a live wire with a love of colourful language who failed to think before he opened his mouth. Among his more memorable outbursts are his description of Kevin Rudd as "a toxic bore" and the declaration that climate change was "absolute crap".