The weekend in abhorrent Sexism

Julia Gillard on the campaign trail.

Julia Gillard on the campaign trail. Photo: Getty Images

It had already been a shameful week for anyone who cared about equal rights in this country. First, The Prime Minister's body was lampooned on a menu at a Coalition fundraiser, then came news that the defence forces were entangled in a heinous sex scandal. But wait! What were we thinking? We still had the weekend. 

Perhaps News Ltd columnist Piers Akerman wanted to test the patience - and values - of the mandarins at the ABC. He certainly seemed to be on a collision course, of sorts, on Sunday morning's filming of Insiders.

Apparently utterly missing the point of Howard Sattler's bewildering inappropriateness and appropriate dismissal from Perth's 6PR, Akerman weighed in with his bizarre take on the humiliation of Tim Mathieson before suggesting rumours had long ricocheted around Parliament House over Prime Minister Julia Gillard's partner's sexuality.

''Why is being homosexual in 2013 such an issue, why wouldn't she have slapped him down on the basis of even if he was, what's so offensive?'' Akerman said.


The Guardian journalist Lenore Taylor, another guest on the show, leapt in to pooh-pooh the opinion.

''You don't,'' Taylor interjected.

''Precisely. That's my point.'' We'd lost your point by this point, Piers.

And then came presenter Barrie Cassidy's stinging smackdown: ''You've just done precisely what Howard Sattler did and just passed on rumours and that's just as pathetic, quite frankly.''

''I don't think it is,'' came Akerman's reply.

''I think it is,'' Cassidy said.

''I don't think I did pass on rumours … I passed on the same question that people said initially when she moved in … and nobody took it any further, and that's why I'm saying [Sattler] was wrong, Barrie.''

''OK. Have fun protecting that position,'' said Cassidy, who then attempted to move the discussion forward. But out came Akerman's shovel.

''As those of us who have met Mr Mathieson know, he's a very blokey bloke, and all of these rumours seem to be totally unfounded … If the Prime Minister's watching, and she usually does, I hope she hasn't taken any offence at anything I've said this morning.'' The phrase ''too little, too late'' springs to mind.

Hammering the final ''blurt first, repent later'' nail into the coffin, an ABC clip of the excruciating segment was removed from Twitter and YouTube mysteriously quickly.


Meanwhile, on another ABC forum, this time, Sunday's Radio National, Australian Financial Review columnist and industrial relations consultant, Grace Collier made clear that she disapproved of the prime minister's dress code in Parliament.

"I don’t think it’s appropriate for a Prime Minister to be showing her cleavage in Parliament."

"It’s not something I want to see. In my opinion as an industrial relations consultant, it is inappropriate to be in Parliament, it is disrespectful to yourself and to the Australian community and to the parliament to present yourself in a manner that is unprofessional."

Feminist author Eva Cox disagreed with Collier, saying “I think you are showing a considerable prejudice against a woman who dresses quite conservatively."

Collier replied that she didn't want to see any politician's flesh in parliament, at which point the disagreement devolved into a heated discussion about men covering their chests. Which, as we all know, is totally the same thing.