'You're a dog': Saunders and Sorensen feud in parliament

ABUSED: Ted Sorensen has reacted after being called a dog in parliament.
ABUSED: Ted Sorensen has reacted after being called a dog in parliament.

MARYBOROUGH'S Labor MP Bruce Saunders has called Hervey Bay's state member Ted Sorensen a dog in parliament.

But Mr Sorensen yesterday brushed off the remark, labelling it "petty politics".

The comment was made during Friday's parliamentary session after the LNP member's speech about the State Government's budget.

But when the Maryborough MP called his opponent "a dog" at the conclusion of his speech, it drew condemnation from the chamber.

Mr Saunders later withdrew his comments.

Mr Sorensen addressed parliament over the need for better services for police and the courts to address the region's issues of domestic violence, following reports of his staff being abused and threatened last week.

"My staff member was verbally abused to the point where she advised attendees at my office that she would call the police if that individual came back into the office, which he was about to do," he said.

"She was then vilified on a Facebook page and on that same Facebook page she read threats of guns and protesting and she wondered how far it would go, but I insisted on a police investigation."

He singled out Labor's Hervey Bay candidate Adrian Tantari for giving "tacit approval of the abuse, name-calling and intimidation" of his staff by posting on the same Facebook page about the cashless credit card.

"He proceeded to take part in various conversations on a Facebook page and say 'We will fight this all the way'," MrSorensen said.

"For the potential Labor candidate to participate in such an activity is reprehensible.

"It was all about the cashless credit card. They were trying to hold protests.

"It was organised by George Seymour, the deputy mayor of the Fraser Coast Regional Council."

Mr Sorensen said the abuse was so bad his staff member would not come into the office on Tuesday without police protection.

Yesterday he responded to the words of the member for Maryborough.

"On Friday I rose in the house to speak on the bad budget delivered by the Labor Government," Mr Sorensen said.

"I am not focused on petty politics like the Member for Maryborough, but rather on delivering for the people of Hervey Bay.

"Only the LNP will build a better Queensland by delivering the roads, dams and bridges we need."

Burnett LNP state member Stephen Bennett said it was a horrible event to hear in parliament.

"It's an absolute new low," he said.

"It's very disappointing that a self-confessed 'union thug' uses parliament to disrespect the people that he's there to represent."

Mr Tantari said he commented about his support for the card as a response to a direct question on Facebook, but denied supporting any of the alleged abuse.

He said he would never support derogatory language being used towards anyone but found the alleged commentary quoted by Mr Sorensen "totally offensive".

"It's an absolute fabrication, I find it quite bizarre to be quoted as such," Mr Tantari said.

"I find it very offensive to say I would be associated with derogatory language towards a staff member."

Mr Tantari said it would be up to the individuals to look at themselves and the way they wanted to go about the debate.

But he also accused Mr Sorensen of using this issue to deflect questions of his support of the card.

"It seems to me that it's all a smokescreen for Mr Sorensen on his position of the cashless welfare card. He wants to use this opportunity to attack," he said.

Opposition to the cashless welfare card has been growing in the region, with two protests held by community members in Hervey Bay and Bundaberg over the past few weeks.

Deputy mayor George Seymour, who organised the meetings in Hervey Bay, said they were for people concerned about the introduction of the card to talk about how they would be affected.

"It was community consultation; it was just people sitting down... talking about the card's impacts," Cr Seymour said.

"I've made no secrets about disagreeing with the policy."

The Chronicle made numerous attempts to contact Mr Saunders, but he did not respond before deadline.

Topics:  bruce saunders fcpolitics hervey bay maryborough queensland parliament ted sorensen

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