Australian prime minister accuses opposition leader of sexism

Julia Gillard’s speech questioned after speaker resigns

by Emily Senger

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is making headlines after she lashed out at opposition leader Tony Abbott, calling him sexist and misogynist during an impassioned speech in Parliament.

According to The Herald Sun, Gillard launched into her tirade after Abbott questioned the prime minister’s appointment of speaker Peter Slipper, who has been at the centre of a scandal after he was found to have sent a text message to a former staffer, comparing women’s genitalia to mussels.

“I say to the leader of the opposition, I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man,” Gillard said. “If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn’t need a motion, he just needs to look in the mirror.”

Gillard went on to say that Abbott should be the one ready to resign for his history of sexist remarks and actions.

In her speech, Gillard, who is the country’s first female prime minister, said that she has been personally offended by the opposition leaders’ actions. She cited examples, saying Abbott told her to “make an honest woman of herself” and that he stood beside protesters outside of Parliament, who were holding signs that said “ditch the witch” and another one that described her as a “bitch.”

Slipper later resigned for his actions, leading pundits to ask why Gillard went to so much effort to defend a speaker whose actions were deplorable in the first place. An excerpt from The Australian editorial reads: “Yet, undignified as the manner of his departure may have been, Mr. Slipper yesterday showed better judgment than Julia Gillard, who just four hours earlier was defending the indefensible by backing him to the hilt.”

Gillard’s speech seems to show a double standard, writes Sydney Morning Herald political editor Peter Hartcher. “The moment Gillard rose to defend Slipper and keep him in office, she chose to defend the indefensible, to excuse the inexcusable. The government had spent a month vilifying Tony Abbott for having ‘a problem with women.’ But when one of the bulwarks of the government was exposed as having a problem with women, it was suddenly acceptable.”




Browse

Australian prime minister accuses opposition leader of sexism

  1. Now that I’ve listened to the speech in its entirety, she in no way defends Slipper. She simply says that Abbot is a hypocrit and an opportunist.

    • Not verbally, the PMs actions and actions of other ministers have defended this man for a long time. Even the country’s Attorney General allowed Slipper to enter recent court proceeding against him (for sexual harassment of a male staffer) through a private access. This was largely condemned by the presiding judge as very improper and as providing assistance and/or favoritism. What many outside Australia don’t know is that her political party is
      hanging on to power by a thread so what people will come to realize is
      that her rant was that of a desperate person. Rather than standing up
      for women’s rights, the Australian PM was deflecting attention away from
      the real sexist and misogynist inside her own party. The most blatant
      hypocrisy. Shameful that the country’s first woman PM chose power over
      principle by not standing up for women’s rights.

      • Jones, Peter Slipper is not nor has ever been a member of the Labor Party, currently he sits as an Independent and before that he spent over 20 years sitting with the conservatives. Also seeing as how Julia is not married and has no plans to do so I’m under the impression that she doesn’t like marriage at all, as it is gay couples have exactly the same rights (with regards to family) as her and her partner (Tim Mathieson) have

    • You have only heard the speech. You don’t know her and her government. They are full of deceit and double standards. A disaster for Australia.

      • No, I’m not overly familiar with her government, which is why I did not comment on it. I commented on the speech.

  2. And I am offended by her homophobia, so there!

  3. How offensive that text message! Gillard’s right, you know.

  4. SHE’s a sexist.

  5. Gillard’s on fire and abbott has become a battering ram himself. At this rate, he won’t win the next election, seeing as a large majority of voters are women.

  6. I think she was trying to make is that Abbot cannot make motions or preach against misogyny when he is one of the biggest perpetrators of it in Australian Politics. Gillard, doesn’t defend the actions of Slipper, she said she was
    offended, but I agree that it is currently going through the courts and if every politician
    was fired for being a jerk, we would have a quarter of the politicians
    left in office. I am a woman and Australian, I am not offended by Slipper’s texts, do I think it makes him look like a loser, yes. Do I want him in OZ politics, no. But I find Abbot far more offensive and a threat to women’s rights in Australia. I dont agree with her policies, but I m bloody glad she finally said the things she did. Long time coming.

  7. She is a hero!
    I dont agree with Labor, But god i love her!

  8. Don’tt believe what the conservative press in Oz are paid to say. It was fantastic and long overdue!! Also notice hat Abbott will take Slippers vote if he gets it – utter hypocrisy!

  9. Julia Gillard is not a sexist and she was not defending Peter Slipper. Abbott was as usual being an absolute tool and trying to cash in on the Peter Slipper debacle, regardless of the fact Peter Slipper is ( was) a Liberal politician and personally endorsed by Tony Abbot for many years. Julia Gillard has had to face some of the nastiest, sexist vitriol since she came into power that no other Prime Minister in Australia has ever had to face and finally she has said enough is enough. It’s about time and I applaud her.

  10. There is the misconception that Gillard was in some way covering for Slipper. Not at all. She was very clear in her criticisms. The government didn’t act right away on the text message revelations because Slipper was being looked into for alleged abuse of parliamentary travel entitlements. Gillard expressed the view that they were willing to let the process take its course.

    Her speech was tough and direct on a matter that badly needs airing and not just in Australian parliamentary circles. There are broad gender disparities in the Australian workplace in areas such as salaries and promotions. A lot of it due to sexist attitudes. I mean it was remarkable that Abbott, as leader of the opposition felt free to stand under signs that pronounced Gillard a “witch” and “Brown’s bitch.”

    Gillard showed courage in her willingness to speak out and in her refusal to put up with sexist attitudes. In order to bring about meaningful change you have to challenge, and she certainly did that – in fine style.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *