Opposition leader Tony Abbott with his two daughers (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Earlier this year Australia’s prime minister couldn’t catch a break.

From the Australia Day “riot” to the scandal that enveloped the speaker of the House and the nocturnal activities of a backbench MP, Julia Gillard seemed to stumble from one omnishambles to another.

But the tables have turned, and it’s opposition leader Tony Abbott who is under the kosh.

On Tuesday Mr Abbott managed to single-handily undermine his party’s attack on the Labor government’s mid-year budget with some ill-chosen words that reignited Australia’s now infamous misogyny debate.

It all started when Treasurer Wayne Swan attempted to explain the government’s decision to cut the baby bonus from A$5,000 to A$3,000 for the second and each subsequent child.

“We believe that these changes to the baby bonus will bring it more into line with the actual costs of having children. After the first child you’ve already bought the cot, the pram and other items you can use again,” he said.

Enter Mr Abbott, a proud father of three girls. He attacked the move on breakfast TV with the following logic: