Liberal party mouthpiece and Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann, has once again landed his party in hot water. The Belgian-born Mr. Cormann claimed he was simply channelling action movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger when he branded Bill Shorten an “economic girlie man”.
In a Saturday morning interview with Sky News’ Saturday Agenda program, Mr. Cormann let the rhetoric fly: “The Labor Party has not delivered a surplus in Australia for 25 years. The problem that the Labor Party has today is that Bill Shorten is an economic girlie man. He doesn’t have what it takes to repair the Budget mess that they have left behind.”
The comment has drawn the ire of social advocacy groups and the Opposition, who have seized on the opportunity to make a wider point about Coalition values. Labour Senate Leader Penny Wong appeared on Sky News the next day, speaking to the many problems with Mr. Cormann’s offensive language. “I don’t think using ‘girlie’ as an insult is the sort of thing a cabinet minister or any serious political leader should be saying,” Ms. Wong suggested.
Later in the interview, Ms. Wong spelled out the potentially negative repercussions of such loose talk: “I just think if we use girl as an insult what are we telling our sons and our daughters about being a girl? You’re saying it’s somehow less confident, weak, whatever the imputation – I just don’t think that’s sensible. Imagine if we used any racial term in the way it was used. I think we would all be outraged for the same reasons.”
Both Labour and the Greens have branded the Coalition a misogynist party, pointing to its dismal cabinet participation rate (just one serving cabinet member is a woman) and several other public fiascos (Wink-gate etc.) as evidence of its antiquated moral compass.
Seeking to defend his dreadfully out of touch party, Mr. Cormann’s follow up comments only helped make matter worse: “I am not talking about girls. I am talking about economic girlie men,’’ he told NewsCorp. “I don’t think there’s anything gender-specific here. Not girls, girlies; it’s very different. I hope you are not going to say I am a sexist misogynist.”
Well Minister Cormann, if the shoe fits…
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