by The Editors
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard made international headlines (and garnered much admiration) last week when video of her smackdown of Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, went viral.
Center-right Liberal Party leader Abbot had put forward a motion for parliamentary Speaker Peter Slipper to step down on the basis of some undeniably sexist text messages the latter sent to his adviser. And indeed, Slipper (who has since resigned) is being sued for sexual harassment.
Yet the real controversy stems from Abbot’s motivation for motioning that Slipper step down.
By all accounts, Abbot wanted Slipper out of office because the Speaker gave Labor its thin majority in the House; many say that Gillard wanted him in for the same reason. Yet the grounds on which Abbot motioned for Slipper’s resignation “misogyny” are what prompted Gillard’s mordant riposte, in which she demonstrated Abbott’s hypocrisy by citing numerous examples of his own misogynistic behavior.
Some choice moments from Gillard’s speech:
“I was very offended personally [when] the Leader of the Opposition said abortion is the easy way out.”
He has said, “If it’s true that men have more power, generally speaking, than women, is that a bad thing?”
I was offended when he stood next to a sign that described me as “a man’s bitch.”
If he 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.”
I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man,” Gillard declared. “I will not. Not now, not ever.”
In any event, Labor Party member Anna Burke has now replaced the smarmy Slipper. Burke is only the second female Speaker of Australia’s House of Representatives.
Labor maintains its House majority and replaces a sexist Speaker with a woman who told the Australian press that Gillard’s speech was “spot on.” Doesn’t sound so bad.