Speaker gives protesters the shivers
AFTER enduring the chill of the longest night of the year on the cold steps of Parliament House, the leader of the protest against the Government’s decision to close the Repatriation Hospital has heated up the rhetoric with House Speaker Michael Atkinson.
Veterans’ spokesman Augustinus Krikke told a rally yesterday his group’s 78- night vigil on the steps of Parliament House would continue despite the winter weather. “We have done everything we can to accede to the wishes of that man that calls himself the Speaker,” Mr Krikke told about 50 supporters.
“He’s bad mouthed, abused and called us every name under the sun, making ridiculous allegations. So our Mr Nice Guy attitude and co-operation is over. We will stay here on our terms and to hell with whatever he wants or has to say.”
Last month, Mr Atkinson accused a Save the Repat pro- tester of urinating at the front of Parliament House.
He said it was time for the veterans to “move on”, despite the Government showing no signs of budging on plans to close the Repat at Daw Park.
Mr Krikke said it was particularly cold on Sunday — the longest night of the year — but his group was being looked after by people nationwide.
“We had a Chinese meal delivered last night (Sunday) paid for by a lady in Sydney ... we’ve got support from all corners of the land,” Mr Krikke said, adding his group had taken Mr Atkinson at his word that they could “stay on the steps for as long as it needs to address our issues”.
Mr Atkinson said yesterday that “I haven’t communicated with Mr K, (Krikke) ... since the last media interest a month ago. Nothing has happened since.”
Opposition health spokesman Stephen Wade told the rally the Liberals would retain the hospital and its services.