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I saw Abbott throw punch, says former student

Date

Mark Coultan, Phillip Coorey

Under further scrutiny following fresh claims that support allegations of bullying during university ... Tony Abbott.

Under further scrutiny following fresh claims that support allegations of bullying during university ... Tony Abbott. Photo: Wayne Taylor

ANOTHER witness has contradicted the denial by the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, that he intimidated a student by punching a wall next to her head during their student days.

The man, then a student, said he was outside the Student Representative Council offices photocopying when ''Abbott's famous flying squad of goons crashed down the stairs, threw me against the wall, kicked in the doors of the SRC, and started creating havoc''.

The man, who emphasises he was not involved in the SRC election, said the fracas was scary, as the intruders were clearly looking for a fight. But he was so angry he followed them into the offices.

''I saw Abbott throw a punch at Barbara Ramjan but didn't see it land … When next I saw her, she was in an extremely shocked condition, leaning against the wall … I thought he had actually struck her, but I can see that was simply my assumptiom.

''If Ms Ramjan says the punches were aimed next to her head, I can't actually in fact contradict that … Simply I saw Abbott swinging punches, and certainly indulging in serious argy-bargy. I saw him swing a punch; I saw her in great distress.''

The witness wishes to remain anonymous but says he is willing to sign a statutory declaration about what he saw.

David Marr's Quarterly Essay 47, of which an extract ran in the Herald, has brought the events of 35 years ago to light.

Ms Ramjan, the SRC's student welfare officer who beat Mr Abbott in an election, says he approached her after her victory.

She thought he was going to congratulate her. Instead, she said: ''He came up to within an inch of my nose and punched the wall on either side of my head … It was done to intimidate.''

Mr Abbott told Marr he had no recollection of the matter, but once the story was published, he denied the event.

''It never happened,'' he said.

The NSW Labor MP Deb O'Neill said she did not believe Mr Abbott's denial. ''What sort of man can or cannot remember punching a wall beside the head of a woman,'' she said. ''It goes to the character of the man.''

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