An Australian MP has endured an onslaught of criticism for failing to help a fellow panellist who collapsed next to her on live television. Sophie Mirabella, a centre-Right representative, was seen to recoil after her neighbour, Simon Sheikh, the head of the GetU activist group, fell face first onto the desk during a panel chat show.
A minister sitting on the other side of the panel, Greg Combet, a Labor MP who was discussing the country's new carbon tax, expressed alarm and then joined the crew to revive Mr Sheikh. Mr Sheikh was accompanied off the set, apologising and saying he had fainted. Tony Jones, the host of the show, Q&A, later said Mr Sheikh had suffered a seizure and been taken to hospital.
Ms Mirabella, who appeared to back away in disgust from Mr Sheikh after he slumped forward, was forced to defend her response today after she came under fire on social media. One viewer tweeted: "Watching Simon Sheikh passing out is horrible. But worse is seeing Sophie Mirabella recoil in horror, rather than help." Another said: "Disgusted at Sophie Mirabella's reaction. No thought of helping someone in need." A spokeswoman for Ms Mirabella said the MP was in shock and has contacted Mr Sheikh to wish him well.
"She was unaware it was a medical emergency at the time and has since contacted him to wish him a speedy recovery," the spokeswoman said. Mr Sheikh said he had been battling the flu and has been cleared from hospital. "For those watching Q&A sorry I couldn't stay - I'm in hospital, thanks for all your support," he said. His group said on Twitter "Folks, please don't criticise @SMirabellaMP - it was an extraordinary circumstance and everyone was shocked".