Bitter scenes in Australian parliament
Wed, 10 Oct 2012 6:08p.m.
By Australia Correspondent Rachel Morton
There were bitter scenes in Australia’s parliament last night, as allegations of sexist behaviour filled the air.
They saw the Speaker of the House resign, Prime Minister Julia Gillard both take and give offence, and Opposition leader Tony Abbott put his foot well and truly in it.
The Speaker, Peter Slipper, resigned due to a scandal involving lurid and sexist text messages he sent to a former staff member.
“I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man,” Ms Gillard said. “I will not.”
The attack was on Mr Abbott and came after he accused the Prime Minister of hypocrisy for defending the Speaker.
“Everyday you, Prime Minister, run a protection racket for the current speaker you indicate your unfitness for high office,” Mr Abbott said.
Ms Gillard’s response was swift and brutal.
“If he wants to see what misogyny looks like in modern Australia then he doesn't need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror.”
And she said his standing next to demeaning signs at a rally was also offensive.
“When the leader of the opposition stood next to a sign that described me as a man’s bitch - misogyny, sexism everyday from the leader of the Opposition.”
Ms Gillard had voted for the Speaker to remain despite public outcry over text messages he sent, including “gross references to female genatilia”.
Mr Slipper resigned despite surviving the vote to boot him out.
“I leave this position without rancour, with a great deal of sadness and more importantly with a great deal of regret,” he said.
Mr Abbott accused Ms Gilllard of a gross error of judgement by standing by the speaker, but then committed one himself with this choice of words.
“Another day of shame for this government which should already have died of shame,” Mr Abott said.
“Died of shame” is the same term broadcaster Allan Jones used last week when describing Ms Gillard's father.
“The government isn't dying of shame, my father did not die of shame,” said Ms Gillard.
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10/10/2012 11:17:13 p.m.
A milestone nonetheless wrote:
Gosh. Two major party leaders striving to win the Stop Misogyny vote. Most Australians would never have dreamed of such a scene in parliament five to six years ago. Bitterly beautiful, I'd put it down to the slow semblance of progress.
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