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Newsline: Australia’s ambassador to France threatened to quit at airport

Australia’s ambassador to France was so offended by a demand that his gay partner wait in a car instead of greeting Prime Minister Tony Abbott and chief of staff Peta Credlin on the tarmac of a Paris airport that he threatened to resign on the spot, an incident that would have rocked Mr Abbott’s already fragile government, according to a new book, Credlin & Co., How the Abbott Government Destroyed Itself. Following media reports about the incident, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade denied that ambassador Stephen Brady offered to resign to the head of the department over the treatment of him and his partner, Peter Stephens, at Le Bourget Airport on April 25 last year. “Ambassador Brady did not offer his resignation to Mr [Peter] Varghese,” the department said later, in response to a question from Labor senator Penny Wong. The department did not disclose that Mr Brady told a protocol officer at the airport that Australia would have no ambassador to greet the prime minister because he would resign with immediate effect if his partner was excluded. After the threat was conveyed to the prime minister’s aircraft it sat on the tarmac for about 10 minutes while Mr Brady and Mr Stephens waited outside for a response. The incident sent shockwaves through the Department of Foreign Affairs because of the perception that Mr Brady and his partner were snubbed for being gay. The couple achieved minor fame in 1999 when Mr Brady became Australia’s ambassador to Denmark, making them one of the world’s first openly gay ambassadorial couples. Mr Abbott opposes same-sex marriage.



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