26 Jan 2012

Riot police to Julia Gillard's rescue

10:04 pm on 26 January 2012

Police have had to bundle Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott away from a rowdy protest in Canberra.

The protesters were angry about comments Mr Abbott made earlier on Thursday about the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.

The Prime Minister stumbled as she was rushed to an awaiting vehicle and was helped up by security officials who were confronted by the protesters.

It appears the mob was incensed by remarks made by Mr Abbott earlier in the day in which he said he thought it was probably time to reconsider the relevance of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, the ABC reports.

About 200 protesters gathered outside a restaurant near Old Parliament House where Ms Gillard was handing out medals to emergency services representatives.

Mr Abbott was also inside the building.

At least 50 police, including the riot squad, were called to the scene shortly after 2.30pm (AEDT).

The ABC reports the protesters, who were involved in a nearby event to mark the 40th anniversary of the embassy, banged on the three glass sides of the restaurant chanting "shame" and "racist".

The two leaders, protected by police and security officers, escaped out a side door after about 20 minutes.

Protesters chased their car down the road, banging on its roof and bonnet.

Some of the protesters scuffled with police after the Prime Minister left, the ABC says, but there were no arrests, or injuries.

Ms Gillard says she is angered that indigenous activists disrupted an awards ceremony to honour emergency services representatives.