Australia PM accuses over 'misogyny'

Tue, Oct 9, 2012, 01:00

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.

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