Protest traps Julia Gillard
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott were rushed to safety when protesters surrounded them at a restaurant in Canberra on Australia Day.

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott were rushed to safety when protesters surrounded them at a restaurant in Canberra on Australia Day, 2012.

About 200 protesters from the nearby Aboriginal Tent Embassy were pushed back by police as the two politicians fled the scene.

The protest had been sparked by Tony Abbott's comments made the previous day that Aboriginal rights had improved since the Tent Embassy was first launched, and that it was "probably time to move on from that."

Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott had been attending the Inaugural National Emergency Medals Ceremony in the Lobby Restaurant when protesters started hurling chants at them. Some protesters were banging on the glass and carrying rocks and sticks.

Thousands of protesters had been drawn to the Tent Embassy to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the site – first formed when four Aboriginal activists pitched tents outside the Parliament House on January 27, 1972 to demand land rights.

Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott were stuck in the restaurant for 30 minutes before police cleared a space in the group to bring the PM to her car. While the Prime Minister was being rushed away by her security team, she made sure that Mr Abbott was being protected as well. Both were placed into the Prime Minister's armoured car and driven to safety.

Police later stated that no-one would be arrested for the protests since no harm was actually done during the incident.

The protesters had been informed of Mr Abbott's location when one of Ms Gillard's staff members leaked his whereabouts. Ms Gillard assured the media she had no knowledge of this and accepted the staff member's resignation.

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