CANBERRA (Reuters) - An Australian politician who told a pregnant rival that her baby could be born a demon was ordered to seek anger counseling on Wednesday after a string of allegations about her caustic behavior.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd interrupted his official visit to Japan to rebuke the junior member of his centre-left government, Belinda Neal, ordering her to improve her behavior and warning that her future in politics was not guaranteed.
His intervention came after a string of media reports about Neal, including her comments to pregnant Liberal Party politician Sophie Mirabella, revelations she was suspended from a soccer team for kicking a fallen opponent, and allegations she threatened and abused staff at a restaurant north of Sydney.
“I’ve said to her that there appears to be a pattern of unacceptable behavior,” Rudd told reporters in Tokyo.
Neal is married to New South Wales state minister and political powerbroker John Della Bosca. She narrowly won her seat in the lower House of Representatives at last November’s national election.
Neal and Della Bosca have attracted blanket media coverage in Australia since an incident on June 6 at a nightclub north of Sydney, where they were accused of threatening and abusing staff after waiters asked them to move to a new table. They have both denied any wrongdoing.
Neal told reporters in Sydney she had agreed to anger management counseling.
“I think frankly that it will be a good thing,” she said.
Reporting by James Grubel, editing by Miral Fahmy
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.