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Transcript of doorstop: Parliament House, Canberra: Monday, 5 September 2005: Tony Abbott resignation.

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Shadow Minister for Health Manager of Opposition Business


ISSUES: Tony Abbott resignation

JULIA GILLARD: Just over a week ago it was revealed that John Brogden, then Opposition Leader in New South Wales had made a racist jibe against the wife of former Premier Bob Carr and had behaved inappropriately towards two other women. Within 24 hours he had apologised and resigned. Yesterday it was revealed Tony Abbott had made grossly insensitive and callous remarks about John Brogden within hours of Mr Brogden’s suicide attempt. To date, Tony Abbott hasn’t even offered a fulsome apology. Today he should do the right thing he should fully apologise and he should resign. Mr Brogden did a dishonourable thing and then did an honourable thing, he resigned. Tony Abbott has done a dishonourable thing, he should now do an honourable thing and resign.

The Prime Minister hasn’t offered his support to Mr Abbott to date. We are not surprised by that. The Prime Minister made it clear he believed John Brogden should resign. He needs to apply the same standard as Tony Abbott, even if Tony Abbott is one of the Prime Minister’s favourites, and today ensure that Tony Abbott resigns.

The other thing that makes Tony Abbott’s position unsustainable is that mental health groups around the country have indicated they no longer have confidence in him and indeed some of his most senior Liberal colleagues, particularly in New South Wales, have indicated they don’t have confidence in him. The new Opposition Leader in New South Wales has referred to Tony Abbott in his remarks as stupid and insensitive and can I conclude with the words of another senior Liberal in New South

Wales, Mr John Ryan who I think has exactly summarised the situation by saying ‘I am sickened, saddened and disgusted. If we can’t be seen to care for each other in a time of need, the public will hardly believe that we care about them’. Well I think the Australian public doesn’t believe that Mr Abbott with his gross insensitivities is fit to be Health Minister.

JOURNALIST: Do you think this is feeding into the stereotypical image of politicians where making a quick kill is everything rather than having any sensitivity in these situations?

JULIA GILLARD: I think this is beyond any known norm of political debate. In this Parliament we have struggled with issues associated with suicide. Particularly in the Labor Party where we lost a colleague, Greg Wilton to suicide and of course there is the well publicised incident involving Senator Sherry. What people do when they learn of those sorts of problems, particularly when a colleague is involved, is they grieve, they try and support each other, that is the natural human reaction. Tony Abbott’s reaction wasn’t the natural human reaction, it was callous, it was insensitive, it was grossly inappropriate for the man who ultimately is responsible for Australia’s mental health system. His position is unsustainable, he has done a dishonourable thing and the only honourable course for him to pursue is to resign.


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