Hasn’t been a great week for Gillard, has it?
Australia’s Prime Minister was subjected to a radio interview so hideous that questions are now being raised about whether political discourse Down Under has finally hit rock bottom. Howard Sattler, a presenter on Perth’s 6PR, repeatedly asked his country’s leader whether her long-term partner – the hairdresser Tim Mathieson – was gay. “Well that’s absurd,” Gillard said. Undeterred, Sattler persisted, saying: “He must be gay, he’s a hairdresser.”
How did Gillard react?
She managed to keep her cool, but it is almost impossible to imagine David Cameron or Barack Obama being treated this way in Britain or the US. Sattler was fired. Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said such episodes could dissuade women from entering politics, and Gillard said she was inclined to agree.
“[Broderick] has spoken about her concerns that things like this send a message to women and to girls not to be involved in public life,” she said. “I’m concerned about that too. I don’t want to see a message like that sent to… young girls. I want young girls and women to be able to feel like they are included in public life and not have to face questioning like I faced yesterday.”
Surely it’s only one bad apple?
Sadly not. Earlier this week it emerged that at a fundraiser for Liberal National Party candidate Mal Brough (Gillard is Labor), the menu offered diners “Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail – Small Breasts, Huge Thighs and a Big Red ***”. And last year Gillard was forced to make a blistering speech in Parliament, which became a YouTube sensation, in which she denounced misogyny in Australian politics after another sexism row.