He is under fire after joking about the cruise liner disaster in which at least 11 people died off the Italian coast.
During an interview on Triple M radio in Adelaide earlier today, Abbott made light of the situation.
"This is a bit from left field mate, the captain of the Costa Concordia wants to know if you need any help with your boat policy?" the Triple M announcer said.
"Well, that was one boat that did get stopped, wasn't it," Abbott replied, to laughter. So it was a line in 'response' to the Triple M guy’s jokey question.
Cue the outrage:
Federal Labor MP Rob Mitchell was quick to pounce on the remarks in Twitter.
Can't believe Abbott made his childish boat jokes about the Costa Concordia disaster when people died & are still missing," he tweeted.
"He must come out and apologise."
Abbott, who is in South Australia to take part in a charity bike ride on the sidelines of the Tour Down Under, says Labor has over-reacted to his comments. But he concedes the comments were inappropriate.
"On reflection, it's probably something that should not have been the subject of light-hearted banter on morning radio," he said.
"It was. It probably shouldn't have been, but I think the Labor Party should stop over-reacting and should appreciate just the kind of way that morning radio works.
"I was asked a light-hearted question, I gave a light-hearted response..."
Hmmm.... have your heard of similar 'stupid jokes' from our own politicians?