Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard has admitted she and her Labor Party colleagues should have "named and shamed" the sexist behaviour they copped. In a new episode of Labor MP Andrew Leigh's podcast, which was released this morning, Gillard said she believed sexist critiques would subside once people acclimatised to the fact a woman occupied the nation’s top office. That, however, was not the case.
“As we recall now, actually the gendered insult became more and more common the longer the government governed, and the more political heat there was around and the more measures to contest, particularly carbon pricing,” Gillard said. “I think with the benefit of hindsight, it would have been better if all of us named it and shamed it earlier, but that’s a lesson learned only through having lived through it.”
Gillard's denunciation of sexism in politics came during a debate about whether the speaker of the house at the time should resign for sending text messages that denigrated women. Abbott told Gillard that unless she sacked Peter Slipper over the texts, she was just as bad as him. "I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever," she fired back across the room. "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 is writing out his resignation."
The moment was the first time an Australian leader had delivered such a forthright attack on misogyny. Gillard cited Abbott's past description of abortion as "the easy way out", his characterisation of Australian women as housewives who did the ironing and his suggestion that men were better adapted than women to exercise authority.
The podcast comes amid continual scrutiny on the Coalition and the treatment of women in its ranks.