Question Time on Tuesday quickly degenerated into a vigorous game of cat-calling between the federal government and its opposition when “Sensitive Tony” blew his cover, calling on the government to die of shame, echoing recent controversial remarks by shock-jock Alan Jones.
It was a suberb move by the Prime Minister, who used Question Time to list the times Tony Abbott’s actions and words have offended her.
The barrage followed Tony Abbott’s motion to sack Independent MP Peter Slipper as Speaker. It was only narrowly defeated when independents Craig Thomson, Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Greens MP Adam Bandt sided with the Government. Independent MP Andrew Wilkie voted with the opposition.
Four speakers from both sides of the house were allowed to speak on Abbott’s motion to sack Speaker Slipper based on his misogynistic inappropriate behaviour.
But it was when Gillard spoke that things became interesting.
“I rise to oppose the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition, and in so doing I say to the Leader of the Opposition: I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not. The government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man—not now, not ever.
The Leader of the Opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office. Well, I hope the Leader of the Opposition has a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation, because if he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia he does not need a motion in the House of Representatives; he needs a mirror.”
The Prime Minister then detailed what she refers to as the “opposition leader’s repulsive double standards when it comes to misogyny and sexism” and finally tells it how it is.
Here’s a few of the best Gillard moments from yesterday:
- In a discussion about women being underrepresented in institutions of power in Australia, the interviewer was a man called Stavros and the Leader of the Opposition said: ‘If it’s true, Stavros, that men have more power, generally speaking, than women, is that a bad thing?’ Then a discussion ensued and another person being interviewed said, ‘I want my daughter to have as much opportunity as my son,’ to which the Leader of the Opposition said: ‘Yes, I completely agree, but what if men are by physiology or temperament more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command?’
- I was very offended personally when the Leader of the Opposition as minister for health said, ‘Abortion is the easy way out.’
- I was offended when the Leader of the Opposition went outside the front of the parliament and stood next to a sign that said ‘Ditch the witch’.
- I indicate to the Leader of the Opposition that the government is not dying of shame—and my father did not die of shame. What the Leader of the Opposition should be ashamed of is his performance in this parliament and the sexism he brings with it.
It is these choicest of grabs from a 15-minute impassioned speech from our PM that ultimately changed the political story of yesterday.
What started out as a day about the actions of Peter Slipper and the support the federal government has provided him abruptly changed and thrust the Opposition Leader into the murky media spotlight.
It could have all ended very-badly for Australia’s first female PM when she voted to retain Slipper as Speaker despite his notorious comments against women, including one which refers to female genitalia as “shell-less mussels”. But luckily for Gillard, Tony Abbott swooped in and saved the day, telling the government to die of shame. Abbott has attempted to deny his “died of shame” comments were intended to be linked to Jones’ comments but to no avail. Mr Abbott has now irrevocably aligned himself with the vile comments of Alan Jones even if the intent was not there.
For Julia Gillard, yesterday was a victory. She’s been applauded world-wide for her speech against Tony Abbott.
Yesterday, Julia Gillard came into her own, and as US women’s site Jezebel put it, she’s one badass motherfucker.
And in the aftermath of one of the most eventual Question Time’s in a long while, Peter
Slipper formally resigned as Speaker of the House last night. His former deputy, Anna Burke has stepped into the shoes becoming the second female speaker (the first was Joan Child), a real blow to misogynists everywhere. Perhaps in the case of the speaker, a woman, by physiology or temperament, is more adapted to issuing command and exercising authority than a man.
For a full transcript of Tuesday’s debate visit Hansard.