Australia's opposition leader, Tony Abbott, gets a lesson in politics during radio phone-in on same-sex marriages... from Katy Perry
The awkward encounter with one of the biggest names in pop music rounded off a gaffe-ridden few days for Mr Abbott
Two days after he was widely lambasted for highlighting the "sex appeal" of one of his female candidates, Australia's opposition leader, Tony Abbott, encountered the "hottest woman of 2013" - the US pop star Katy Perry - and received a humbling lesson in politics.
Hoping, perhaps, to restore his "cred" with younger voters, Mr Abbott, 55, took part in a radio phone-in in which various luminaries were given the opportunity to put a question to 28-year-old Ms Perry, speaking on the phone from the US.
"When are you coming back [to Australia]? We need you, we want you," asked Mr Abbott, whose three daughters are all big Perry fans. Quick as a flash, the singer-songwriter - known for her espousal of gay rights - turned the conversation on to a trickier issue. "Oh come on, that's not a political question - let's talk about gay marriage," she retorted.
"Now you're interviewing me," said the leader of the conservative Liberal Party, clearly surprised. Ms Perry - voted the world's sexiest woman by Men's Health magazine - told him: "I love you as a human being, but I can't give you my vote." And she urged listeners to speak out against his stance on same-sex marriage - he is implacably opposed.
The awkward encounter with one of the biggest names in pop music rounded off a gaffe-ridden few days for Mr Abbott, who not only talked up the physical attributes of Fiona Scott, the Liberal candidate in a marginal Sydney seat, but also declared - in reference to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd - that "nobody is the suppository of all knowledge".
And, on Wednesday, in a radio interview, he angered same-sex marriage advocates by saying he was opposed to "radical change based on the fashion of the moment".
Although gay marriage is not a primary issue for most voters, ahead of a federal election next month, it crystallises concerns about Mr Abbott's social conservatism. A devout Roman Catholic, he is opposed to abortion, although he has promised not to tinker with Australia's abortion laws. And although his sister, Christine Forster, is gay, he is wedded to traditional notions of marriage.
Mr Rudd's governing Labor Party is seeking to exploit those views - and Mr Abbott's unguarded comments this week - to portray him as an unreconstructed man of the past. Mr Rudd, also a committed Christian, was opposed to gay marriage, too, until a few months ago, when - still a backbencher - he announced he had changed his view.
During a debate last weekend with the Liberal leader, the Prime Minister said that, if re elected, he would introduce a bill to amend the Marriage Act in the first 100 days of a new parliament, and would allow Labor MPs a conscience vote.
Mr Abbott's remarks this week angered Mr Rudd's Finance Minister, Penny Wong, who is openly gay and has a child with her partner, Sophie Allouache. Ms Wong tweeted this week: "Note to Mr Abbott: Equality is not a fashion item."
Australia's nearest neighbour, New Zealand, is set to celebrate its first gay marriages next week, when a new law comes into force. Among the first couples to tie the knot will be two Australians, Paul McCarthy and Trent Kandler, who won the trip in a contest run by Tourism New Zealand.
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery rumours: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...