An apology has been made by the Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott to asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton in Australia. Mr Banton led a group to present a petition to Mr Abbott recently, with the aim of the petition being to get subsidies on a drug used to treat asbestosis, which is a condition caused by exposure to asbestos. Mr Banton has recently been diagnosed with this condition himself, but has been the face of asbestos campaigning in Australia for some time.
The Federal Health Minister later branded the incident a political stunt. However, shortly after accusing Banton of conducting a political stunt Mr Abbott called him to apologise. He stated: “I’ve called him this morning. I’ve said I’m sorry, he accepted that apology, and he very graciously said he was sorry for exploding.”
He also added: “I am very sorry, I am very sorry for in any way impugning Bernie’s character or motives. He is a good bloke, he’s passionate about the cause it’s an important cause.”
Mr Abbott stated that Mr Banton had made some aggressive comments to him at the time, but said that he didn’t mind: “I don’t mind that because I’m a politician and I can take it. Certainly I think that Bernie has been a fine advocate for people who have been cut down by asbestos-related diseases.“