Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says The Chaser's Craig Reucassel interruption following an event with Bali bombing victims was unnecessary and tacky.
Mr Abbott had been leading away a teary Clair Marsh from a press conference with Bali bombing victim Peter Hughes on Thursday when Reucassel approached and started asking questions about freedom of speech.
Ms Marsh replied: “Do I have free speech to say you're upsetting me.”
Mr Abbott said the occasion was solemn, especially for Mr Hughes and Ms Marsh, who has been helping hospitals in Indonesia since the Bali bombing.
“I thought it was a bit tacky,” Mr Abbott told the Nine Network this morning.
“Particularly for Peter and for Clair it was a very emotional moment going into that garden of remembrance and pleading for the victims of terrorism and to be interrupted by The Chaser in a way that was neither funny or sombre was unnecessary.”
At the event, Mr Abbott had called for $75,000 compensation payments for people affected by terrorism attacks overseas.
Ms Marsh, a nurse who helped Bali victims, said she was astonished by Reucassel's action.
Mr Abbott told Reucassel it was “not the time”.
In a statement on Reucassel's Twitter account, he said he spoke with Mr Abbott's media adviser before the event and told her he would not interrupt the press conference on account of the gravity of its subject.
“Since Mr Abbott had readily taken questions on other issues, Craig asked the Opposition Leader a serious question about his recent statements on free speech. He did not make any jokes or perform any stunts. He did not mention Bali,” the statement from The Chaser said.
“As soon as Clair Marsh expressed discomfort, Craig walked away.”
The statement said Reucassel's approach to Mr Abbott was intended to separate his interaction from the event at the Bali Memorial.“No disrespect was intended to Bali victims or anyone present and Craig apologises for any offence,” the statement said.
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