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'What did he say?': Abbott wants answers over staffer's resignation

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How were the aboriginal activists tipped off?

Aboriginal activist Barbara Shaw says an unknown woman tipped her off about Tony Abbott's supposed comments and location before Thursday's Canberra protest.

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Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has called on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to give precise details about the circumstances of the resignation of one of her staff.

I mean this is too important for the PM and her office to just spin it away. 

The prime minister's office said a media adviser resigned on Friday after telling someone that Mr Abbott was inside a Canberra restaurant near the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.

Tony Abbott ... looking for answers.

Tony Abbott ... looking for answers. Photo: Angela Wylie

That person passed the information on to someone from the Tent Embassy.

The staffer has been named as Tony Hodges.

Mr Abbott said Ms Gillard needed to face the cameras.

Former Gillard press adviser Tony Hodges with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Former Gillard press adviser Tony Hodges with Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Photo: Andrew Meares

"What did he say precisely? To whom did he say it precisely? Why did he say it precisely? And what instructions was he under precisely?" Mr Abbott told Sky News on Saturday.

"I mean this is too important for the PM and her office to just spin it away.

"I'm sure there are decent people in the prime minister's office, but it looks like a pretty grubby business."

Protesters burn the Australian flag.

Protesters burn the Australian flag. Photo: Andrew Meares

After about 200 angry protesters surrounded the restaurant, security guards bundled Ms Gillard out of the building.

She fell awkwardly as she was being rushed to escape to a nearby car.

Mr Abbott said the staffer's behaviour was a poor attempt to turn something for political reasons.

"In part at least, it seems that a member of the prime minister's senior staff was trying to trigger something potentially dire for political advantage," he said.

He said the incident was a serious security breach during which the law may have been broken.

"I suspect that a number of offences would have been committed," Mr Abbott said.

"I think that when you've got a serious security breach involving our nation's leaders, yes, it does have to be fully investigated.

"And obviously, what triggered it has to be fully investigated."

Mr Abbott said he had "nothing but praise" for the way Ms Gillard and security personnel handled the situation on Thursday, but said the situation should never have arisen.

"Information was fed to the crowd at the Tent Embassy which was false.

"Trouble was triggered and it seems that someone from the prime minister's office had a very big hand in all of that."

The Liberal leader believes the protesters who attended a demonstration outside Parliament House on Friday during which an Australian flag was burned were "hugely unrepresentative" of Aboriginal Australia.

"I think people like Warren Mundine, Noel Pearson, Sue Gordon, Mick Gooda .... I think these are the authentic voices of Aboriginal Australia, not the people doing the wrong thing and carrying on the way they did outside of Parliament House," Mr Abbott added.

Mr Abbott said he did not believe the two incidents had delayed moves towards recognising indigenous people in Australia’s constitution.

‘‘It would be a great pity if they did,’’ he said, adding it was an important cause to persevere with.

Just over a week ago, an expert panel of 19 indigenous leaders, politicians and legal minds recommended that indigenous Australians be recognised in the body of the Constitution.

It also said sections of the Constitution which were considered racist should be removed.

‘‘I have some reservations about the recommendations of the committee, but I do think it is important to strive towards constitutional recognition,’’ Mr Abbott said.

AAP

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Aboriginal activist Barbara Shaw says an unknown woman tipped her off about Tony Abbott's supposed comments and location before Thursday's Canberra protest.

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