Jessica Wright, Dan Harrison, Dylan Welch January 27, 2012
INDIGENOUS leaders have promised more protests after a fiery clash between demonstrators and police that trapped the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader in a Canberra restaurant before the pair was dragged to safety and bundled into cars.
The protest was sparked by a comment by Tony Abbott that it was time to ”move on” from the Aboriginal tent embassy, which was celebrating its 40th anniversary.
Violent scenes were seen outside the Lobby restaurant several hundred metres from Parliament House, where Julia Gillard and Mr Abbott were presenting the inaugural National Emergency Medals, after more than 100 people from the tent embassy surrounded the building for more than 20 minutes. The situation was so volatile that Ms Gillard’s federal police escort decided to rush her from the event. As they did she stumbled and they dragged her from the restaurant to a car.
About 50 police, including members of the riot squad brandishing batons and carrying plastic shields, had clashed with angry protesters who were chanting ”shame”, ”racist” and ”always was, will be, Aboriginal land” and banging on the glass walls of the restaurant.
A conversation between Ms Gillard and her security team inside the restaurant was caught by Channel Nine cameras. Her bodyguards were concerned the glass walls would cave in under the force of the protesters’ banging. ”We feel that the situation is deteriorating and can’t stay much longer,” a member of the security team said.
”What about Mr Abbott? Where have you got him?” Ms Gillard asked. ”We’d better help him through, too, hadn’t we?”