NATIONAL: Video has emerged of a Canberra union figure telling Aboriginal tent embassy activists that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott had called for the structure to be pulled down.
The vision, screened on ABC TV, shows tent embassy representative Barbara Shaw speaking to a woman who is out of camera range, but whose voice can be heard.
The ABC report has identified the woman as Unions ACT secretary Kim Sattler.
The woman is heard telling Ms Shaw where both Mr Abbott and Prime Minister Julia Gillard could be found.
“They’re both in a reception at The Lobby restaurant, which is just up the corner, and Abbott’s just made a statement to the press that the tent embassy should be pulled down,” the woman says.
Ms Shaw then repeats what she has been told to the crowd at the tent embassy, who then shout out in anger.
Protesters later marched on the nearby restaurant and banged on the glass walls, causing a security scare that led to Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott being bundled from the building by officials.
Ms Sattler has previously stated that she did not tell the protesters that Mr Abbott said the embassy should be pulled down.
Prime ministerial staffer Tony Hodges resigned over the Australia Day incident after admitting he had spoken to Ms Sattler and told her Mr Abbott was at the restaurant.
Earlier, Australian Federal Police commissioner Tony Negus told a Senate inquiry there was no indication right up to the time the prime minister and Mr Abbott arrived that anything would go awry.
He said federal police began assessing the Aboriginal tent embassy’s 40th anniversary plans back in December, but right up to the afternoon of Australia Day had no reason to believe there would be trouble.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing,” Mr Negus told the Senate hearing.
Mr Negus said Ms Gillard’s security personnel saw the situation escalating as protesters banged on the restaurant’s large glass windows and shouted abuse.
“If it had escalated much further, then the safety of the prime minister couldn’t have been assured,” he said.