Australia senator threatens to use rugby tactics on PM Tony Abbott if he ignores mining concerns

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore on June 29, 2015.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore on June 29, 2015.PHOTO: EPA

SYDNEY (AFP) - An independent Australian senator on Tuesday threatened to physically intimidate Prime Minister Tony Abbott, using illegal rugby tactics including grabbing his testicles, if he does not limit coal-seam gas (CSG) exploration.

Mr Glenn Lazarus, a former rugby league prop and a senator for the eastern state of Queensland, said he submitted a petition to Mr Abbott calling for health impact assessments, exclusion zones and community consultations over mining developments near residential, agricultural and farming areas.

Mr Lazarus, dubbed the "brick with eyes" in his rugby heyday, added to an anti-CSG protest in Sydney that he was prepared to use a range of tactics on the Australian leader if he does not respond to the community's concerns.

"I am prepared to go and squirrel grip, squirrel grip, the prime minister," Mr Lazarus added, in apparently light-hearted comments.

"If that doesn't work I have got other things up my sleeve, like the grapple tackle, the chicken wing and even the crusher tackle, and if that doesn't work, I'm prepared to use the Hopoate tactics."

The "squirrel grip" is a testicle-grabbing tackle, the "chicken wing" involves twisting or bending an opponent's limbs and the "crusher" is pinning the head of a player against the tackler's chest.

"Hopoate tactics" is named after former Australian and Tongan rugby league player and serial offender John Hopoate, who in 2001 was banned for two weeks for inserting his finger in the anuses of several opposition players.

Mr Lazarus, previously a member of flamboyant billionaire Clive Palmer's party in the upper house Senate before he quit to become independent, also said he had threatened to "shirtfront" Mr Abbott over the coal-seam gas issue.

Mr Abbott in October vowed to "shirtfront" - an Australian Rules football term in which a player charges an opponent - Russian President Vladimir Putin over the July 2014 crash of Malaysia Airlines MH17 in rebel-held eastern Ukraine.

Australia is one of the world's largest gas exporters and Mr Lazarus said he was fired up about the issue as deposits and mines were causing "havoc to the residents that are living there".

Mr Abbott had no immediate reaction.