Sunday 21 August 2011

Liberals simmer over Sophie Mirabella sledge as PM declines to rebuke Mark Dreyfus

JULIA Gillard has declined to rebuke her Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change, Mark Dreyfus, after he admitted using "unparliamentary" language to sledge Liberal frontbencher Sophie Mirabella.  
Sophie Mirabella
Liberal frontbencher Sophie Mirabella, in a parliamentary question
 time earlier this year. Picture: Kym Smith Source: The Australian

The opposition claims Mr Dreyfus called Ms Mirabella a “bitch” in parliament yesterday.
Mr Dreyfus denies the claim, although he admits he was out of line.

“I did not use the language being attributed to me by the opposition, however I readily acknowledge that the language I did use was unparliamentary,” he said today.

“I regret that this exchange took place and this is why I acted to withdraw my remark at the time of the debate.”

Liberal women remain outraged, accusing Labor of ignoring offensive conduct by its own MPs while condemning similar breaches by Coalition MPs with “righteous indignation”.

Liberal backbencher Kelly O'Dwyer raised the matter in parliament today, asking Ms Gillard to direct Mr Dreyfus to apologise.

Ms Mirabella said she was offended less by the barb than the “persistent hypocrisy” of the Labor Party.

“I'm not going to sit by while they press the mute button on one of their own,” she told The Australian Online.

Social Inclusion Minister Tanya Plibersek in June launched a general attack on Coalition frontbenchers after a Liberal senator made a cat noise at her ministerial colleague Penny Wong.

“What I am tired of and what so many women are tired of is that whenever there is conflict, we have the leader of the opposition and senior (shadow) ministers reverting to this sort of sexist language,” she said.

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