Prime Minister Tony Abbott has confirmed that the same-sex partner of Australia’s ambassador to France was asked to “wait in the car”, but has put the blame on a junior diplomatic official.
On a recent visit to France for Anzac Day, Mr Abbott was greeted Australian ambassador Stephen Brady (pictured) whose partner Peter Stephens was reportedly politely prevented from welcoming the PM along with Mr Brady.
Mr Brady has tended his resignation. According to a report on Fairfax Media, it is due to the apparent snub.
However, the prime minister denies any involvement in the reported request for Mr Stephens to “wait in the car”, describing the matter as trivial.
“My understanding is that there was some issue at the level of junior officials and I don’t concern myself with these things,” Mr Abbott said, according to the ABC.
“I don’t normally concern myself with trivia,” he added.
The prime minister went on to salute the ambassador as “a fine servant of Australia”.
“He’s a friend of mine, always has been and as far as I’m concerned always will be,” he said.
According to the ABC, the diplomatic protocol is for the partner or spouse of an ambassador to be present when greeting the prime minister if the PM’s partner or spouse is likewise present. Margie Abbott did not accompany Tony Abbott on this particular trip.
Defence Minister Kevin Andrews has said the story is a “beat-up”.
“In fact I had a very enjoyable dinner at Amiens with our ambassador to France and his partner, very enjoyable dinner the night before Anzac Day so I don’t think there’s too much in all of this,” he said.
Stephen Brady and Peter Stephens were the world’s first openly gay ambassadorial couple to be formally recognised when Mr Brady was appointed as Australia’s ambassador to Denmark in 1999.