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Man charged over attack on Tony Abbott


UPDATED | A 38-year-old has been charged by police after allegedly headbutting former prime minister Tony Abbott on the Hobart waterfront.

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Abbott says he was assaulted by a same-sex marriage supporter on Thursday afternoon while walking to his waterside hotel after a meeting at the office of The Mercury newspaper.

Police on Friday charged a North Hobart man with common assault. He was granted bail and is expected to front court on October 23.

Earlier today, police confirmed the man was wearing a “yes” badge.

However, Tasmania Police commander Tony Cerritelli wouldn’t confirm whether Abbott and his alleged attacker exchanged words outside Customs House Hotel.

“We will not get involved in any political matters of yes or no,” he said.

Police say the ex-PM suffered minor injuries but didn’t require medical assistance.

Abbott made a formal complaint on Thursday night after being contacted by police but was “quite calm” when talking to investigators.

The Prime Minister and his Labor counterpart both condemned the attack.

Malcolm Turnbull rang his predecessor after the incident in Hobart on Thursday evening and was in in touch, via text, again on Friday.

“This is a disgraceful incident and I condemn this assault on Tony,” Turnbull told 3AW radio.

Turnbull, who also spoke to the Australian Federal Police commissioner, hopes the assailant will be identified and charged.

Abbott said he was walking toward his waterfront hotel when he was approached by a man.

“A fellow sung out at me — ‘Hey Tony’. I turned around. There was a chap wearing a Vote Yes badge,” Abbott told Macquarie radio.

“He says ‘I want to shake your hand’. I went over to shake his hand then he headbutted me.

“He wasn’t very good at it, I’ve got to say, but he did make contact.

“The only damage was a very, very slightly swollen lip.”

A staffer from Abbott’s office tussled with the man before he ran off “swearing his head off”.

“It’s just a reminder of how ugly this debate is getting,” Abbott said.

Abbott was in Tasmania campaigning for the ‘no’ vote in the national same-sex marriage survey along with Liberal colleague Eric Abetz.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten described the attack as unacceptable.

“I’m glad Mr Abbott isn’t seriously injured and I’ve rung him to say so,” he said on Twitter.

Same-sex marriage campaigners on both sides of the debate also condemned the attack.


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