CANBERRA, Australia—Australia’s prime minister was hit on the head with an egg, and a 70-year-old woman was knocked off her feet on May 7 during a protest ahead of a general election next week.
The egg appeared to strike Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the back of the head and then bounce off without breaking as he spoke to a rural women’s conference in the town of Albury.
Bystander Margaret Baxter was knocked to the floor as security guards grabbed the 24-year-old woman accused of throwing the egg, Amber Holt, and carried her outside.
Morrison helped Baxter to her feet.
It was unclear what Holt was protesting. Outside the hall, she told reporters she did not mean to knock anyone down. She described throwing the egg as “the most harmless thing you can do.”
Police said Holt was charged with common assault and possession of a prohibited drug, cannabis. She was released on bail and is to appear at Albury Local Court on May 27.
Morrison called for more civility in the election campaign.
“Pardon the pun, but I don’t want to over-egg this thing. At the same time, what my concern was, for Margaret and the disregard the individual seemed to have for those others who were in the room,” Morrison told reporters.
“We’ve just got to disagree better about these things. Just because you have a difference of view to someone doesn’t mean you have to engage in these sorts of ugly types of protests,” he added.
Baxter later said she had been knocked over by a cameraman. She said she landed on her hip but was not injured.
“The prime minister helped me get up off the floor and I was very grateful for his assistance,” Baxter said.
“I recently had surgery on my stomach so my main concern was holding my stomach to make sure it didn’t get hit or somebody land on it,” she added.
If re-elected on May 18, Morrison has promised to change laws to prevent vegan activist organization Aussie Farms from publishing the addresses of farms it accuses of animal cruelty and encouraging the public to harass the farmers.
Morrison had earlier wrote on Twitter, “Our farmers have to put up with these same idiots who are invading their farms and their homes.”
Morrison conceded that Holt was unlikely to be a vegan since she threw an egg.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten condemned the protest as “appalling and disgraceful behavior.”
“In Australia, we have violence-free elections,” Shorten told reporters. “People are allowed to protest peacefully, but anything approaching violence is unacceptable.”
Morrison was campaigning in an electorate held by his conservative Liberal Party. The party fears that an independent candidate could win the seat at the election.
Australia’s PM, Opposition Leader Prepare for First Live Debate Ahead of May 18 Election
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will debate Labor leader Bill Shorten in Perth on Monday in a bid to win over undecided voters.
Voter concerns about tax and climate policy are expected to dominate the first leaders’ debate of the federal election campaign on Monday night.
Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten will go head to head in Perth at 7 p.m. AEST in a debate hosted by the Seven Network and The West Australian, and televised on 7TWO.
Readers of The West Australian have nominated questions, mostly around the themes of Labor’s franking credits policy, the economy, tax, border protection, and climate.
Policy costings are also likely to be a focus.
“I’m just going to be myself and be upfront with people,” Morrison told Nova radio on Monday. “I imagine we’re going to talk a lot about the GST.”
The distribution of GST revenues has been a big issue for Western Australia, with both major parties promising a better deal.
Shorten told reporters in Perth he would be talking about the big picture.
“Tonight is debate night—I’m really looking forward to a positive debate, outlining competing visions for what we can do to help the Australian people,” he said.
He said childcare should be put ahead of “unsustainable tax loopholes at the top end of town.”
— Matt Tinney (@Matt_Tinney) April 16, 2019
With early voting starting on Monday, the debate takes on greater importance.
A Newspoll released on Sunday night in The Australian shows the coalition has narrowed the polling gap with Labor, trailing only 51 percent to 49 percent in the two-party preferred vote.
Another Newspoll on Australia’s preferred prime minister showed Morrison leading Shorten 45 percent to 37 percent.
— The Australian (@australian) April 28, 2019
By Rod McGuirk
AAP reporter Angus Livingston contributed to this report.