A senior Australian politician tipped as a future prime minister has accused his countrymen of dismissing their British heritage and acting like 'teenagers blowing raspberries at their parents'. Tony Abbott, a senior cabinet minister in the conservative government of Prime Minister John Howard, criticised the Australian media's 'scathing' coverage of the British royal family and pointed out the inconsistency of newspapers using the term 'Brit' when words like 'Jap' would not be considered acceptable. Australians held the 'swaggering' United States in high regard while unfairly viewing Britain as 'a historical has-been whose hand-me-down symbols had no place in contemporary Australia', Mr Abbott said. Britain, he said, was responsible for giving Australia its political institutions, national character and way of life and it was time for its rightful place in Australian history to be restored. The closeness of the relationship had been demonstrated on battlefields from the Boer war to Flanders, Tobruk and now Iraq, Mr Abbott said. 'The British connection has been a defining part of Australia's development and nations don't function well when suffering self-imposed historical and cultural amnesia,' he said. Mr Abbott, a pugnacious frontbencher widely regarded as a future prime minister, added that many Australians seemed to be embarrassed about their British colonial heritage. 'Nearly every Australian has a story to prove that the English are a bunch of stuck-up snobs,' he said. He accused his compatriots of losing sight of the fact that Britain remains Australia's largest source of immigrants, its second largest source of tourism (after New Zealand), its second most important military ally (after the US) and its fourth largest trading partner (after the US, Japan and China). He quoted a demographer who wrote that after Britain, Australia is the most British country in the world. The Australian press acted like 'teenagers blowing raspberries at their parents', Mr Abbott said in a speech to Monash University in Victoria. While last weekend's marriage of a Tasmanian woman to the Crown Prince of Denmark had generated positive coverage in the Australian media, he said, the British royal family was subject to snide taunts and constant criticism. While such barbs would be odd if directed at a country such as Brazil, and positively dangerous if aimed at Australia's neighbour Indonesia, Mr Abbott said they were 'perverse and ultimately self-destructive when directed at a country which founded and helped shape modern Australia'. Mr Abbott said that under past Labor governments, Australia's engagement with Asia was often pitched as a kind of revenge for Britain's entry into the European Community.