It looks like the Crocodile Dundee stereotype of Australians as rough-around-the-edges in all things has a grain of truth, even when it comes to the debate over same-sex marriage in the country. The run-up to the upcoming referendum on marriage appears to have become particularly unconventional and passionate.
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was on the receiving end of a bizarre act of violence upon leaving a dinner with proponents of traditional marriage in Tasmania. On the walk back to his hotel, Abbott received a head butt from a man claiming to want to shake the former PM’s hand. You read that right – a head butt.
“I was walking from the Mercury office across that docks area, that beautiful docks area in Hobart, towards my hotel,” Abbott said to Steve Price and Sky News host Andrew Bolt on Melbourne’s 3AW radio on Thursday.
“A fellow sung out at me ‘Hey Tony!’ I turned around, there was a chap wearing a Vote Yes badge. He says ‘I wanna shake your hand’. I went over to shake his hand and then he headbutted me,” Abbott continued. “Now he wasn’t very good at it I’ve gotta say, but he did make contact. The only damage was a very, very slightly swollen lip.”
Thankfully, his staff member “grappled with this guy” before he “ran off swearing his head off basically.”
“It was just a reminder of how ugly this debate is getting,” Abbott said.
Fortunately, Abbott only sustained a fat lip from what could’ve been a horrible assault.
Alex Greenwich, a member of Australia’s parliament and head of The Equality Campaign, condemned the attack on Twitter.
There is absolutely no place for violence in the marriage equality debate. This is about treating people fairly and with respect & dignity.
— Alex Greenwich MP (@AlexGreenwich) September 21, 2017
For what it’s worth, the alleged assailant, a DJ named Astro Labe (can’t make this stuff up), who is also an anarchist, claims that the headbutt had nothing to do with the marriage debate.
‘And I shook his hand and I was a little bit too drunk to actually connect particularly well.
‘Apparently he got a fat lip but he didn’t have one this morning.’
Mr Abbott told reporters he suffered minor injuries and was left shocked by the encounter.
Mr Labe said he was wearing a ‘yes’ sticker supporting the same-sex marriage campaign but the attempted headbutt was inspired by a general dislike for Mr Abbott and not one issue in particular.
Regardless of the real motivation behind the assault, the crazy incident just goes to show how out of control politics has gotten, not just here in America, but all over the world.