Address on Misogyny to the Australian Parliament
delivered 9 October 2012, Parliament House, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]
The Deputy Speaker: I call the Prime Minister.
PM GILLARD: Thank you very much, Deputy Speaker, and 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. And 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 got 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 doesn't need a motion in the House of Representatives -- he needs a mirror. That's what he needs.
Let's go through the Opposition Leader's repulsive
double standards, repulsive double standards when it comes to misogyny and
sexism. We are now supposed to take seriously that the Leader of the Opposition
is offended by Mr. Slipper's text messages, when this is the Leader of the
Opposition who has said, and this was when he was a minister under the last
government -- not when he was a student, not when he was in high school -- when
he was a minister under the last government.
And then a discussion ensues and another person being interviewed says, "I want my daughter to have as much opportunity as my son," to which the Leader of the Opposition says: "Yeah, I completely agree, but what if men are by physiology or temperament more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command?"2
Then ensues another discussion about women's role in modern society, and the other person participating in the discussion says, "I think it's very hard to deny that there is an under-representation of women," to which the Leader of the Opposition says, "But now, there's an assumption that this is a bad thing."3
This is the man from whom we're supposed to take lectures about sexism. And then, of course, it goes on.
I was very offended personally when the Leader of the Opposition, as Minister for Health, said, and I quote, "Abortion is the easy way out."4
I was very personally offended by those comments. You said that in March 2004. I suggest you check the records.
I was also very offended on behalf of the women of Australia when, in the course of this carbon pricing campaign, the Leader of the Opposition said, "When the housewives of Australia need to do -- "What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing...."5 Thank you for that painting of women's roles in modern Australia.
And then, of course, I was offended too by the sexism, by the misogyny of the Leader of the Opposition catcalling across this table at me as I sit here as Prime Minister, "If the Prime Minister wants to, politically speaking, make an honest woman of herself" -- something that would never have been said to any man sitting in this chair.
I was offended when the Leader of the Opposition went outside in the front of Parliament and stood next to a sign that said, "Ditch the Witch."
I was offended when the Leader of the Opposition stood next to a sign that described me as a man's [Bob Brown's] "bitch."
I was offended by those things.
Misogyny, sexism -- every day from this Leader of the Opposition. Every day, in every way, across the time the Leader of the Opposition has sat in that chair and I've sat in this chair, that is all we have heard from him.
And now, the Leader of the Opposition wants to be taken seriously. Apparently, he's woken up. After this track record and all of these statements, he's woken up and he's going: "Oh dear, there's this thing called "sexism"; oh, my lord, there's this thing called "misogyny." Now who's one of them? Oh, the Speaker must be because that suits my political purpose." Doesn't turn a hair about any of his past statements; doesn't walk into this Parliament and apologize to the women of Australia; doesn't walk into this Parliament and apologize to me for the things that have come out of his mouth -- but now seeks to use this as a battering ram against someone else. Well, this kind of hypocrisy should not be tolerated, which is why this motion from the Leader of the Opposition should not be taken seriously.
second: The Leader of the Opposition is always wonderful about walking into this
Parliament and giving me and others a lecture about what they should take
responsibility for -- always wonderful about that, everything that I should take
responsibility for, now apparently including the text messages of the Member for
Fisher; always keen to say others should assume responsibility,
particularly me. Well, can anybody remind me if the Leader of the Opposition has
taken any responsibility for the conduct of the
Sydney Young Liberals and the
attendance at this event of Members of his frontbench? Has he taken any
responsibility for the conduct of Members of his political party and Members of
his frontbench, who apparently, when the most vile things were being said about
my family, raised no voice of objection.6
The Deputy Speaker: Order! Ministers on the front bench are not
Third, Ms. Deputy Speaker -- why the Leader of the Opposition should not be taken seriously on this motion: The Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition have come into this place and have talked about the Member for Fisher. Well, let me remind the Opposition, and the Leader of the Opposition particularly, about their track record and association with the Member for Fisher.
I remind them that the National Party pre-selected the Member for Fisher for the 1984 election, that the National Party pre-selected the Member for Fisher for the 1987 election; that the Liberal Party pre-selected Mr. Fisher for the 1993 election; then for the '96 election; then for the '98 election; then for the 2001 election; then for the 2004 election; then for the 2007 election; and then for the 2010 election. And across many of those pre-selections, Mr. [Peter] Slipper enjoyed the personal support of the Leader of the Opposition.
I remind the Leader of the Opposition that on the 28th of September 2010, following the last election campaign when Mr. Slipper was elected as Deputy Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition --
The Deputy Speaker: [inaudible]
PM GILLARD: -- the Leader of the Opposition at that stage said this, and I quote -- he referred to the Member for Maranoa, who was also elected to a position at the same time, and then went on as follows:
The words of the Leader of the Opposition on record about his personal
friendship with Mr. Slipper and on record about his view about Mr. Slipper's
qualities and attributes to be the Speaker. No walking away from those
words. They were the statement[s] of the Leader of the Opposition then.
The Leader of the Opposition [is] keen to lecture others about what they ought to know or did know about Mr. Slipper but, with respect, I'd say to the Leader of the Opposition after a long personal association, including attending Mr. Slipper's wedding, it would be interesting to know whether the Leader of the Opposition was surprised by these text messages. He's certainly in a position to speak more intimately about Mr. Slipper than I am and many other people in this Parliament given this long personal association.
Then, of course -- Then, of course, the Leader of the Opposition comes into this place and says, and I quote -- and says, and I quote:
I indicate to the Leader of the Opposition, the government is not dying of
shame. 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.
[Opposition Members interjecting]
I am offended by those text messages but I also believe, in terms of this Parliament making a decision about the speakership, that this Parliament should recognize that there is court case in progress, that the judge has reserved his decision, that having waited for a number of months for the legal matters surrounding Mr. Slipper to come to a conclusion, that this Parliament should see that conclusion. I believe that is the appropriate path forward and that people will then have an opportunity to make up their minds with the fullest information available to them.
But whenever people make up their minds about those questions, what I won't stand for -- what I will never stand for -- is the Leader of the Opposition coming into this place and peddling a double standard -- pedaling a standard for Mr. Slipper he would not set for his himself, peddling a standard for Mr. Slipper he has not set for other Members of his frontbench, peddling a standard for Mr. Slipper that has not been acquitted by the people who have been sent out to say the vilest and most revolting things, like his former shadow Parliamentary secretary -- secretary, Senator Bernardi. I will not ever see the Leader of the Opposition seek to impose his double standard on this Parliament.
Sexism should always be unacceptable. We should conduct ourselves
as it should always be unacceptable. The Leader of the Opposition
says, "Do something." Well, he could do something himself if he wants to deal with
sexism in this Parliament. He could change his behavior. He could apologize for
all his past statements. He could apologize for standing next to signs
describing me as a witch and a bitch -- terminology that is now objected to by the
frontbench of the opposition. He could change a standard himself if he sought to
do so. But we will see none of that from the Leader of the Opposition, because
on these questions he is incapable of change -- capable of double standards
but incapable of change. His double standards should not rule this Parliament.
But I will take the remaining -- I will take the remaining seconds of my speaking time to say to the Leader of the Opposition I think the best course for him is to reflect on the standards he's exhibited in public life; on the responsibility he should take for his public statements; on his close personal connection with Peter Slipper; on the hypocrisy he has displayed in this House today. And on that basis, because of the Leader of the Opposition's motivations, this Parliament today should reject this motion and the Leader of the Opposition should think seriously about the role of women in public life and in Australian society because we are entitled to a better standard than this.
1 Full exchange as originally recorded in The Herald Sun at: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/qa-this-time-the-audience-is-even-crazier-than-the-guests/news-story/89dd22f9662d931ffb7f53c557835bd7. Note: Content removed at source. Secondary source here (added 7/31/20): https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/qa-this-time-the-audience-is-even-crazier-than-the-guests/news-story/89dd22f9662d931ffb7f53c557835bd7
Tony Abbott: “If it’s true, Stavros,
that men have more power, generally speaking, than women, is that a bad
4 Broader quotation delivered during a March 2004 speech at the Adelaide University Democratic Club: "Take the challenge of abortion. The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience. Aborting a first trimester fetus is not morally identical to deliberately killing a living human being, but it’s not just removing a wart or a cyst either. Even those who think that abortion is a woman’s right should be troubled by the fact that 100,000 Australian women choose to destroy their unborn babies every year. What does it say about the state of our relationships and our values that so many women (and their husbands, lovers and families) feel incapable of coping with a pregnancy or a child? To a pregnant 14-year-old struggling to grasp what’s happening, for example, a senior student with a whole life mapped out or a mother already failing to cope under difficult circumstances, abortion is the easy way out. It’s hardly surprising that people should choose the most convenient exit from awkward situations. What seems to be considered far less often is avoiding situations where difficult choices might arise.” [emph. added; source: https://australianpolitics.com/2004/03/16/abbott-abortion-easy-way-out-and-measure-of-moral-health.html
5 Broader quotation: ""What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up." [Source: https://www.smh.com.au/national/abbott-accused-of-being-incredibly-oldfashioned-as-he-lets-off-steam-20100209-nnqr.html]
6 See Alan Jones "died of shame" controversy
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