Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Shoes Thrown at Former Australian PM John Howard on Live TV

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The man who threw his shoes at John Howard last night is a Newcastle environmental activist.

Mr Gray threw his shoes at former prime minister Howard during the ABC's live chat show Q&A after questioning him about the invasion of Iraq.

"That's for the Iraqi dead," he shouted before being ejected from the audience.

Mr Howard appeared to take the incident in his stride, telling host Tony Jones not to worry.

Mr Gray later asked for his shoes back, but his request was denied.

Mr Gray said he threw the shoes to show people in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East that not all Australians supported the invasion.

"I wanted to show them that the decision was made by a small cabal of nasty men," he said.

Mr Gray said he did not come to the studio with the express purpose of throwing his shoes at Mr Howard.

"It was spontaneous and it was a very difficult thing for me to do," he said.

Mr Gray told ABC Radio he did not want to cause chaos on the set, but did want to attract as much attention as possible.

"I wanted to throw my shoes at John Howard and have the rest of the world see it, certainly," he said.

He said the war in Iraq is a very polarising issue but he rejects any suggestion that his anti-war protest itself was violent.

"I think it's rather ridiculous to call it an act of violence when the real subject of the conversation should be Australia's involvement in an illegal war and John Howard's responsibility for that," he said.
Mr Gray is a member of Newcastle-based environmental group Rising Tide, which calls for an end to coal exports and new coal-fired power stations.

During the NSW election in 2007, Mr Gray and other members of the group jumped on then-Premier Morris Iemma's car at a protest in Newcastle. Mr Gray was involved in a 2006 court case involving the NSW Government which attempted to stop Centennial Coal's Anvil Hill mine in the Hunter Valley from going ahead.

In 2009, Mr Gray was part of the group that launched a lawsuit suing power company Macquarie Generation over its proposed Bayside Power Station in the Upper Hunter Valley.

Critics have called Mr Gray an "idiot" for his actions while others have questioned his half-hearted effort in shoe-throwing.

The second shoe he lobbed hardly came anywhere near the former prime minister.

Mr Gray explained that it is a very difficult to stand up and conduct such a protest, especially because such action is against his nature.

"I certainly didn't want to hurt the man but I certainly wanted to make my point known," he said.

"Quite a few people said I throw like a girl."
Mr Howard appeared unfazed by the attack, laughing off the incident.

"It's alright, don't worry," Mr Howard told Jones as he apologised.

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