Australia PM accuses over 'misogyny'
Julia Gillard, Australia's first female prime minister, has accused opposition leader Tony Abbott of sexism and hypocrisy after he forced a vote to remove House Speaker Peter Slipper, who later resigned.
Ms Gillard's Labor government, which appointed Mr Slipper last year to shore up its numbers in parliament, won a vote to block Mr Abbott's motion hours before the speaker quit, saying he didn't want to damage the House's reputation.
Mr Abbott said Mr Slipper was unfit for the role after allegedly sending text messages that contained crude comments about women.
"I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man," Ms Gillard told parliament, pointing at Mr Abbott. "The leader of the opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynist are not appropriate for high office.
"Well I hope the leader of the opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation." Mr Abbott, whose Liberal-National coalition is leading in polls before elections due next year, has faced claims from Labor ministers that he has a problem dealing with powerful women.
He began a media blitz defending his credibility last week with the help of his wife Margie. Ms Gillard has been confronted by protesters bearing placards reading 'Ditch the Witch' since becoming prime minister in June 2010, and has previously attacked sexism in Australian politics.
Yesterday, she accused Mr Abbott of "repulsive double standards when it comes to misogyny" and said she'd been offended by "cat-calling" to her in the House of Representatives.
Opposition Stance Opposition lawmakers including Nationals leader Warren Truss said the government is trying to undermine Mr Abbott to deflect attention from a slowing economy and the introduction of new taxes. Ms Gillard is the first Australian prime minister who isn't married. She has no children and lives in the capital Canberra with her partner, hairdresser Tim Mathieson.
In August, she said there were sexist overtones to allegations she was guilty of misconduct at a law firm she worked at in the 1990s. Australia has a "blokey" culture, and Ms Gillard plans to boost female representation across government boards, she said in an interview in September 2011.
While retaining the title of speaker, Mr Slipper hadn't served in the role since April, when he stepped aside after a former employee issued a civil claim accusing him of making unwanted sexual advances. He is fighting the civil action.
Mr Slipper (62), held the seat of Fisher in Queensland, which he won in 1993, for the Liberal Party until November, when he resigned from the party to become an independent and was named speaker.