Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has struck back against the man who allegedly headbutted him, mocking the ‘Yes’ campaigner’s inability to do any damage.
Mr Abbott, who was awarded a top prize for boxing at Oxford and emerged without visible injury from the alleged encounter, wasn’t impressed by his alleged assailant.
‘He wasn’t very good at it I’ve got to say,’ Mr Abbott told Andrew Bolt, and described the alleged headbutt as ‘not very effective’ at a Hobart press conference on Friday.
‘The only damage was a very, very slightly swollen lip.’
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott (pictured) has struck back against the man who allegedly headbutted him, saying the man was ‘not very good’
Mr Abbott, who has a boxing blue from his Oxford days, wasn’t impressed by his alleged assailant, who he says was wearing a badge from the ‘Yes’ campaign (pictured)
‘He wasn’t very good at it I’ve got to say,’ Mr Abbott told Andrew Bolt, and described the alleged headbutt as ‘not very effective’ at a Hobart press conference on Friday (pictured)
When asked whether he was tempted to fight back, the pugilistic politician said: ‘The thought certainly went through my mind’.
Mr Abbott had four amateur bouts while a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, fighting as a 95 kilogram heavyweight and winning each encounter.
‘It’s a shock to have a fellow Australian seeking to shake your hand turn a handshake into an assault, it’s a shock,’ he said.
‘Normally a handshake is a sign of trust and peace, it’s a sign of two people wanting to deal openly and courteously with each other but this handshake turned into a headbutt.’
A CCTV camera captured Mr Abbott walking with a staffer just moments before he was allegedly headbutted by a same-sex marriage activist.
The footage is from outside the Custom’s House Hotel on Morrisson St in Hobart, and just moments later Mr Abbott claims he was attacked by a man wearing a ‘Yes’ badge who had asked to shake his hand.
When asked whether he was tempted to fight back, the pugilistic politician (pictured) said: ‘The thought certainly went through my mind’
Tasmania Police are now investigating the assault, which they say occurred about 4.35pm on the footpath in Morrison Street opposite Custom’s House Hotel
Mr Abbott (pictured, left, right) appeared uninjured in a press conference in Hobart on Friday
Mr Abbott (pictured, right) and a staffer were seen walking through Hobart through CCTV footage moments before he was allegedly attacked
Mr Abbott brushed the attack off while speaking to Andrew Bolt, but said it was a ‘reminder of how ugly [the same sex marriage] debate is getting’.
The 59-year-old said the man who attacked him was wearing a ‘yes’ badge, and referred to his actions as ‘politically motivated violence’.
‘It was just very disconcerting to find the love is love brigade, or a least someone who was advocating a yes vote, should, under the guise of wanting to shake your hand, in fact try to give you a so-called Liverpool kiss.’
The Warringah MP also claimed his assailant told him: ‘You deserve it because of all the things you’ve said’.
Tasmania Police are now investigating the assault, which they say occurred about 4.35pm on the footpath in Morrison Street opposite Custom’s House Hotel.
A spokesperson for Tasmania Police noted officers had to contact Mr Abbott to find out what had happened, and a formal complaint was not made until afterwards.
Mr Abbott (pictured, right) had four amateur bouts while a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, fighting as a 95 kilogram heavyweight and winning each encounter
Pictured: The area Mr Abbott was allegedly attacked – a footpath on Morrison St opposite Custom’s House Hotel
Tasmania Police are now urging the man behind the alleged attack to come forward, or for witnesses to contact police on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1300 333 000.
Mr Bolt told his viewers a ‘big’ guy with ‘tatts’ had approached the man and asked if he could shake the former Prime Minister’s hand.
‘Abbott is a politician, he can’t say no – can’t be rude, this guy was big, tatts, all this kind of stuff,’ he said.
‘The yes badge suggested he wasn’t really a supporter but what can you do?’
Mr Bolt then alleged Mr Abbott had offered his hand and was attacked.
‘The man headbutts him in the face, goes off swearing, abusing, saying he deserved it,’ he said.
Those fighting for a ‘No’ vote have also gathered at rallies to say their piece (pictured)
A mural of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott getting married to himself appeared in Redfern earlier this month
A staffer from Mr Abbott’s office said he tussled with the man before he ran off ‘swearing his head off’.
The former Prime Minister was in Tasmania on Thursday to lunch with campaigners opposed to gay marriage, including Liberal Party colleague Eric Abetz.
Alex Greenwich from The Equality Campaign issued a statement condemning the alleged attack.
‘We condemn the violence against Tony Abbott that has been reported tonight,’ he said.
The former Prime Minister’s stance against same-sex marriage has been well publicised, and Mr Abbott has fielded much criticism as a result (pictured is Mr Abbott at a Hobart press conference)
‘There is never a place for violence or abuse.
‘Marriage Equality is about respect and dignity for every Australian.
‘There is no room for any disrespect either physical or verbal in this national debate.
‘Our campaign has always and will continue to call for respect and everyone involved in this debate to act in a respectful and dignified way.’
The former Prime Minister’s stance against same-sex marriage has been well publicised, and Mr Abbott has fielded much criticism as a result.
His sister, Christine Forster, and his daughter Frances have both come out publicly in favour of allowing same-sex couples to wed legally.
Social media users were quick to question Mr Abbott’s claims, stating he was not a reliable source, and not one to walk away from a fight.
One Twitter user called for eye-witnesses to come forward and verify the claims, while another suggested the reported attack was staged.
Another questioned the timing of the alleged headbutt, noting Mr Abbott’s ally Andrew Bolt was live on air at the time.
‘It was quite coincidental that this occurred while Andrew Bolt was live… given he and Tony Abbott are best friends,’ he wrote.
The alleged attack on Mr Abbott comes just a week after Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd tweeted a bloodied image of his godson, claiming he was bashed for supporting gay marriage.
The picture shows Sean with a cut between his eyebrows standing on a Brisbane bus.
‘So many warnings to Turnbull about what the postal vote could unleash,’ he told his 404,000 followers on Wednesday afternoon.
‘Now my godson Sean has been punched for standing up for marriage equality.’
The 59-year-old has received much criticism for his views, including by sister Christine Forster
A local marriage equality group on Facebook claimed Sean was punched after confronting a man who was pulling down rainbow flags from the Oxford Street roundabout in Bulimba.
The former Labor leader, who hails from Queensland declared his support for gay marriage in 2013, during his second stint as prime minister.
The committed Christian and father-of-three has criticised Mr Turnbull, who also supports gay marriage, of jeopardising public safety as postal ballots are sent out to Australian households from this week.
Voters will have until October 27 to return their envelopes with a result expected to be declared by mid-November.
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd says his godson was bashed last week for supporting gay marriage