Abbott rides political cycle
By CLEO SRIBER
RIDERS in the ninth annual Pollie Pedal were hot and sweaty but in good spirits when they stopped in Coffs Harbour yesterday for a well-earned break.
Minister for Health and Ageing Tony Abbott swapped his suit for lycra bike shorts to ride in the 2006 Pollie Pedal to raise money for diabetes research at the Westmead Millenium Institute at Westmead Hospital.
The bike ride started in Brisbane on Sunday and will travel 1100km in total, finishing in Sydney's Westmead Hospital next Tuesday.
At least 12 politicians will participate in the 10-day bike ride including the secretary to the Minister for Education, Pat Farmer; Federal member for Deakin, Phil Barresi; and Federal member for Parramatta, Julie Owens; joining Mr Abbott for the entire journey.
Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker joined the cyclists in the leg from Grafton to Coffs yesterday.
"Many years ago a few of us in Parliament were trying to figure out what to do to change the image of politicians from fat cats, to give them a better look," Mr Abbott said.
"Somebody came up with the idea of a long distance bike ride for charity."
Over the past eight years Pollie Pedal has raised more than $650,000 for organisations wuch as the Royal Flying Doctor Servoce, Youth Insearch, the paralympic Games and childhood leukaemia research.
"This year is the 9th year of Pollie Pedal and so far this year we've raised $290,000 for Diabetes Research at Westmead Hospi- tal," Mr Abbott said.