The protester who photobombed Tony Abbott’s election victory appearance with his family originally intended to disrupt the prime minister-elect’s victory speech but couldn’t get access to the stage through the media pack.
Fregmonto Stokes, a 25-year-old playwriting student originally from Melbourne, caused widespread confusion when he took the stage with the Abbott family, just after the Coalition leader had claimed victory in the federal election.
He is an anti-coal activist who disrupts events posing as a character called Twiggy Palmcock. He has previously interrupted an Abbott speech in Melbourne.
The stunt was a stunning breach of security as Stokes was able to gain access using a faked media wristband made out of candy wrappers.
Stokes told Business Insider his original intent was to have “Twiggy” take the stage towards the end of the victory speech.
After the speech finished Abbott briefly stepped down into the crowd. Stokes approached him in character and said he was “here to help”, asking if he could have the Liberal Party nomination for the seat of Greenway in the next election.
He stuck close, joining the family as they mounted the stage. “They were all mostly smiling away,” Stokes said. “My main interaction was with Tony when I congratulated him.”
Stokes shuffled backwards when security guards started reaching for his ankles, but then he was tackled by a number of guards and led away.
“They took me out the back and searched me for weapons,” Stokes said. “They only found my comb which I probably could have used a bit more, because my hair was pretty messy.”
Stokes’ Palmcock character has been highlighting the environmental effects of brown coal mining. He poses as a young mining executive carrying a clipboard proposing outlandish mining projects, such as a low-risk investment in a pit in the affluent Melbourne suburb of Toorak.
In a video of one of his previous stunts, which you can see here, he approached businessman Clive Palmer while he was having dinner with former foreign minister Alexander Downer.
More recently the Palmcock character switched to pretending to be a “Palmer United Separatist” candidate for the western Sydney seat of Greenway where the ill-fated Jaymes “Six-Point” Diaz’s campaign imploded over the past five weeks.
Stokes told Business Insider he was aiming to highlight “the increased coal activity and mining under an Abbott Government”. “Coal extraction in Australia will be one of the greatest contributors to global climate change over the next century,” he said.
It’s not the first time Stokes has disrupted an Abbott event.
In November last year, along with another activist, he interrupted Abbott by walking up to his lectern and heckling him during a speech at Melbourne University.
Abbott remarked after the interruption that it was good to see undergraduate humour was alive and well.
The Twiggy Palmcock name comes from combining three of Australia’s three biggest mining names: Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest of Fortescue, Clive Palmer, and Hancock Prospecting, the company owned by Gina Rinehart.