>> Paris envoy Stephen Brady threatens to resign after his partner barred from greeting Tony Abbott
Fin avril, l’ambassadeur d’Australie en France Stephen Brady, qui était accompagné de son conjoint, Peter Stephens devait accueillir Tony Abbott à son arrivée à l’aéroport du Bourget, a rapporté la presse australienne. Mais à la dernière minute, Peter Stephens a été prié « d’attendre dans la voiture » par un responsable du protocole australien.
Le Sydney Morning Herald ajoute qu’à la suite de cet incident, l’ambassadeur « a littéralement hurlé » sur le responsable en question et a menacé de démissionner.
Contraint de se justifier ce mercredi, Tony Abbott a déclaré qu’il ne « se préoccupait pas normalement de futilités », situant l’origine du problème « aux étages inférieurs » du protocole.
Le Premier ministre australien, dont l’une des soeurs est lesbienne, ne fait pas mystère de son opposition au mariage gay, mais a assuré n’éprouver que du respect pour l’ambassadeur, décrit comme un « ami » : « Je l’ai nommé ambassadeur à Paris, je le connais depuis des années. C’est un fonctionnaire remarquable. Je dirais même que c’est un ami ».
Stephen Brady avait été nommé à son poste en 2014. La presse avait rapporté à l’époque qu’avant son départ, le couple avait été reçu pour un dîner d’adieu par Tony Abbott.
L’usage protocolaire veut que le Premier ministre soit accueilli par un ambassadeur et son conjoint uniquement s’il est lui-même accompagné de son propre conjoint. Tony Abbott s’est rendu seul à Paris, sans son épouse Margie.
>> AUSTRALIA’s ambassador to France threatened to resign in a “fit” after his partner was barred from greeting the Prime Minister at Paris airport despite being aware this was a breach of diplomatic protocols.
The Daily Telegraph can confirm career diplomat Stephen Brady had a screaming match with a junior official when told his partner Peter Stephens had to stay in the car when Tony Abbott arrived in Paris late on Anzac Day after flying from Turkey, where he had been attending the centenary Gallipoli commemorations.
DFAT rules stipulate that when a PM is travelling alone, he or she is greeted by the ambassador only. Only when the PM’s spouse is accompanying can an ambassador bring a spouse or partner to an official greeting. Mrs Abbott had accompanied her husband to the Gallipoli ceremony but had flown home from Istanbul leaving the Prime Minister to travel alone to Paris.
The Paris Embassy was made aware of this in advance of Mr Abbott’s arrival.
Despite knowing this, Mr Brady “threw a fit” when told his partner could not be on the tarmac when the plane arrived. He was asked to stay in the car.
“He threw a complete fit. And he more than anyone knows the protocols,” a source told The Daily Telegraph.
It has also been revealed Mr Brady inferred in the conversation with the junior official, who was shaken by the encounter, that he believed the reason was because his partner was a man. This is despite Mr Abbott personally hosting Mr Brady and Mr Stephens in his private dining room following his appointment to the plum post.
A source close to the PM said such a suggestion was “outrageous and a slur on the PM”. “He took them both out to dinner that same night,” the source said.
Mr Brady and Mr Stephens became the world’s first openly acknowledged diplomatic gay couple in 1999 when they were formally introduced to Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II.
The encounter with the junior official wasn’t the only angry moment involving Mr Brady, according to sources on the trip.
He had also demanded that he sit in the car with the PM on the way to the French presidential palace, despite the PM using his time in the car to do important work. One of the PM’s staff had to get out of the car and travel in an accompanying vehicle so Mr Brady could ride with the PM. Mr Brady was appointed ambassador to the sought-after French capital by Mr Abbott on the recommendation of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who is said to be close to Mr Brady.
He has close links to Kevin Rudd, and was also the official secretary to Australia’s first female governor-general Quentin Bryce.
Ms Bishop was unavailable for comment last night.