Australian PM Julia Gillard calls opposition leader sexist hypocrite
Published Tuesday, October 9, 2012 7:03PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 10, 2012 8:00AM EDT
Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard accused the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, of being “sexist” and a “misogynist” in a blistering attack during parliament Tuesday.
Abbot had called for the resignation of Speaker Peter Slipper, who is accused of propositioning his media advisor and sending a string of crude and “misogynist” text messages, which have been released by the Australian press.
But Gillard targeted Abbott’s own behaviour, labelling him a hypocrite in a 15-minute speech.
“I will not be lectured about sexism or misogyny by this man. I will not,” said Gillard. “Not now and not ever.”
Gillard lambasted Abbott for sexist actions against her in the past, including standing next to a sign that read “ditch the witch,” and calling on the prime minister to “make an honest woman of herself.”
Gillard said she was “personally offended” by a number of comments by Abbot including a March 2004 statement in which he said, “abortion is the easy way out.”
“If (Abbot) wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn’t need a motion in the house of representatives, he needs a mirror,” said Gillard.
Slipper was recruited by Gillard’s party from opposition ranks last November in a move that effectively gave Gillard’s administration a two-seat majority.
Slipper survived an unprecedented opposition motion to remove him by one vote, but hours later resigned.
He denied the allegations levelled against him, but did apologize for the text messages released by the press.
Gillard said Abbott himself has maintained a long friendship with Slipper, and even attended his wedding. “He is certainly in a position to speak more intimately about Slipper than I am,” she said.
“What the leader of the opposition should be ashamed of is his performance in this parliament and the sexism he brings with it,” said Gillard.
Gillard’s minority government is currently trailing the conservative opposition in opinion polls and could be forced to hold early elections if it loses a no-confidence motion in the 150-seat chamber, according to the Associated Press.