Ex-PM Abbott to pay for 'smashing' farewell

HONG KONG • If Mr Tony Abbott's ouster as Australia's prime minister was a shock to his supporters, few felt it more sharply than whoever was dancing on the Italian marble table at a party in the ousted leader's offices that night.

The marble table, like Mr Abbott's support, collapsed dramatically.

The tale of the marble table has been the talk of Australian political circles since Monday, when it was officially revealed before a Senate committee.

Staff of the Department of Parliamentary Services explained how the government-owned table was found in pieces on the morning of Sept 15, the day after Mr Malcolm Turnbull defeated Mr Abbott to become leader of the Liberal Party and Australia's Prime Minister.

Mr Abbott on Monday said he had hosted drinks that night in his Cabinet offices and would pay for the damage.

"It was my event so I take responsibility for it," he said in a written statement.

The bronze-framed coffee table cost A$590(S$595) when it was purchased in the late 1980s, but its replacement or repair would cost several times that today, Australian news reports said.

"Quite a party," Senator Penny Wong, the head of the opposition in the Senate, said during the committee meeting.

Ms Wong, a member of the Labor Party, later questioned why the offer to pay had come only after the destruction of the table had been made public.

"I think the reality is no Australian accepts it's appropriate to smash furniture at work, no matter who you are," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

The culprit has not been named, but ABC reported that according to various descriptions of the party: "A consistent theme is that a large gentleman climbed on to the marble table and shimmied until it was reduced to rubble."

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2015, with the headline 'Ex-PM Abbott to pay for 'smashing' farewell'. Print Edition | Subscribe