A Hobart DJ who headbutted Tony Abbott says he did it because of a “personal hatred” for the former leader, but Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz insists the assault is linked to the ‘yes’ campaign.
Astro Labe, 38, has been charged with assaulting Mr Abbott as he walked along the Hobart waterside to his hotel on Thursday afternoon.
Labe, a DJ and self-confessed anarchist, was wearing a ‘yes’ sticker when he spotted Mr Abbott on the street and went over to shake his hand before leaning in for a headbutt.
He said he simply wanted to hit Mr Abbott because of a “personal hatred” towards him rather than about the marriage equality debate.
“All it was is I saw Tony Abbott and I’d had half a skinful and I wanted to nut the c*** … That’s just my personal hatred,” he told News Corp Australia.
“Coincidentally, some friend had put a (yes) sticker on me. It had absolutely nothing to do with that.”
However, Mr Abbott, who was left shocked but unscathed after the encounter, claimed it was “ugliness” as part of the same-sex marriage debate.
Gay rights activists and politicians from both major parties condemned the violence.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull rang Mr Abbott on Thursday night and later described the attack as disgraceful.
Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne said the violence was un-Australian, while Opposition Leader Bill Shorten tweeted it was unacceptable.
Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesman Rodney Croome said the man was not connected with the state’s pro-gay marriage campaign.
“There’s no link between his attacker and the marriage equality campaign over and above a lapel badge,” he told AAP.
But Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz on Saturday said some ‘yes’ campaigners appear to support Labe’s actions on social media.
He said the National Union of Students LGBTI group’s meme of the postal vote survey with the photoshopped question “Should Tony Abbott be headbutted” appear to endorse Labe’s actions.
Labe is expected to face the Hobart Magistrates Court on one count of common assault on October 23.