Australian Opposition leader Tony Abbott is again under fire for comments deemed to be inappropriate, just weeks after he took a tongue-lashing from Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who accused him of being sexist and misogynist during an impassioned speech in Parliament.
Speaking on a morning talk show about the government’s decision to reduce the amount of “baby bonus” payments parents receive after the birth of their second child, Abbott said: “I think if the government was a bit more experienced in this area, they wouldn’t come out with glib lines like that.”
The comment was viewed by some as a direct dig at Gillard, who does not have children. Following the comments, Gillard said, in another interview, that Abbott could explain what he meant by “that line.”
Abbott later clarified his statement in an interview with Australian news talk radio station 3AW, saying that he and his wife had two children just 15 months apart and he was speaking about his personal experience, not about the prime minister.
He also offered a this apology: “If she wants to take offence, I’m sorry about that,” he said. “What we’ve got is a government which hyperventilates about all sorts of things at the least possible excuse.”
Though Opposition members are now complaining that they have to walk on eggshells, lest they offend the prime minister, Gillard has something to smile about. The Australian reports that a new poll shows Gillard’s popularity has risen 10 points over Abbott in the wake of her misogyny speech.