Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz says the assault on former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Hobart shows the “ugly underbelly” of the ‘yes’ campaign.
But same-sex marriage advocate Rodney Croome has urged the public not to judge the actions of one man, whose only connection to the campaign was a ‘Yes' badge, as reflective of the marriage equality campaign
Mr Abbott was allegedly headbutted by a tattooed man wearing a pro-same-sex marriage badge on early Thursday evening on the city’s waterfront.
Senator Abetz caught up with the former leader an hour after the incident.
“It would be fair to fair to say that he was stirred but especially not shaken,” Senator Abetz said.
“He has been well-received by people on his visit to Tasmania so it is fortunate his view of the state is not formed by one rotten apple.”
Senator Abetz said Mr Abbott had been routinely stopped in the street during the past two days in Tasmania, for greetings and photos with passersby.
He said for that reason, he thought nothing of being stopped by his alleged attacker.
“This man yelled out ‘Hey, Tony, can I shake your hand’. As he got closer, Tony realised that he was wearing a ‘yes’ badge which he thought was strange,” Senator Abetz said.
“I think the fellow is very fortunate that Tony exercised great self-restraint."Senator Eric Abetz
“With his Oxford blue in boxing, I think he would have dropped the guy.”
Senator Abetz said that the incident showed that not all on the ‘yes’ side were interested in diversity of opinions, and love and respect.
He said this was one of a number of attacks this week on people opposed to same-sex marriage.
“It is overwhelmingly an example of the ugly underbelly of the ‘yes’ campaign,” Senator Abetz said.
Mr Croome said the alleged attack was "beneath contempt" but urged the public not to judge marriage equality proponents on the action of one man wearing a ‘yes’ badge.
"This attack on Tony Abbott, like any violence on the basis of political belief, is beneath contempt and has no place in Australian public debate, especially when that debate is about love, commitment, tolerance and respect,” he said.
"I urge both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ supporters to act with respect and restraint because, when this postal survey is over, we will still have to live side by side as Australians."