PM targets ‘men in blue ties’

Former Prime-minister Kevin Rudd arriving at La Trobe university to launch Africa-Australia dialogue public lecture.Photograph Simon O’Dwyer. The Age Newspaper. May 21st 2013 Photo: Simon O’DwyerAn attempt by Julia Gillard to put gender at the centre of the election by suggesting women would be marginalised under an Abbott government has drawn fierce criticism from opponents and has even been questioned by her Labor MPs.

As speculation about her leadership intensified, the Prime Minister said a government dominated by ”men in blue ties” would mean hard-won financial gains for women would be rolled back, with abortion again becoming the political play-thing of male politicians.

While the comments were ostensibly directed at the Coalition, Tony Abbott’s name was not specifically mentioned, leaving some to interpret them as a veiled warning to her own party not to replace her with Kevin Rudd.

Australia’s second-most powerful female politician, Julie Bishop, accused Ms Gillard of creating a distraction to save her job.

Prominent feminist commentator Eva Cox also weighed in, saying it was an attempt to ”insert an anti-Abbott element into her political message to women” on an issue that was essentially one for state governments.

Labor’s Left faction convener, NSW MP Stephen Jones, also expressed concerns about the abortion comments. ”I fully support a woman’s right to choose, [but] feel a little bit uncomfortable about it being an election issue,” he said.

Launching a Labor fund-raising group called ”Women for Gillard” in Sydney on Tuesday, the Prime Minister sought to re-open the gender divide, claiming abortion policy would be back in play if Labor was defeated. ”On that day, 14 September, we are going to make a big decision as a nation,” she said. ”It’s a decision about whether, once again, we will banish women’s voices from our political life.”

After listing a series of Labor policy advances she claimed would be ”slashed” by an Abbott government, including childcare rebates and superannuation for low-income women, she said: ”We don’t want to live in an Australia where abortion again becomes the political plaything of men who think they know better.”

She also attacked Coalition arrangements which mean Mr Abbott’s deputy prime minister would not be the Deputy Liberal Leader, Ms Bishop, but Warren Truss, the

leader of the junior Coalition partner, the Nationals.

”A prime minister – a man in a blue tie – who goes on holidays to be replaced by a man in a blue tie.

”A treasurer, who delivers a budget wearing a blue tie, to be supported by a finance minister – another man in a blue tie. Women once again banished from the centre of Australia’s political life.”

One female Labor MP told Fairfax, ”this seems very strange, why would she say this, no one’s even talking about it”.

Ms Bishop called on Ms Gillard to apologise. ”Julia Gillard knows full well that the Coalition will not change abortion laws and she should apologise for these inflammatory remarks,” she said.

Ms Cox said Ms Gillard avoided any mention of single parents, who had been ”screwed” by being taken off parenting payments and put on the lower Newstart scheme.

”I think that was a blatantly sexist policy … and not a good look for a Labor government,” she said.

Another prominent MP, Liberal Kelly O’Dwyer, called the speech ”a very desperate ploy”.

Ms Gillard’s speech came amid a mounting campaign to replace her with Kevin Rudd.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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