Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Abbott drops a blonde bombshell - The Canberra Times

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'Young, feisty and with sex appeal'

Opposition leader Tony Abbott talks up Lindsay candidate Fiona Scott by likening her 'sex appeal' to former MP Jackie Kelly.

Perhaps liberated by the blokey surrounds of Penrith stadium, Tony Abbott revealed a little too much of what he liked about Fiona Scott, the Coalition's candidate for Lindsay in western Sydney.

It's her "sex appeal", apparently.

During his tour of the west on Tuesday, a reporter asked what Mr Abbott thought Ms Scott had in common with former Coalition MP Jackie Kelly.

Tony Abbott and Fiona Scott.

Best foot forward: Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Liberal candidate Fiona Scott in Penrith on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

"They're young, they're feisty, I can probably say have a bit of sex appeal," Mr Abbott said, before adding: "They're just very very connected with the local area."


Journalists and minders laughed nervously. Since Julia Gillard's misogyny speech in Parliament last year, Mr Abbott's team has been trying to counter perceptions he has a "woman problem". They will not welcome these latest comments, which add to an archive that includes statements that abortion was the "easy way out" and suggestions women may not have the right physiology for public life.

Greens leader Christine Milne called Mr Abbott ''superficial and sexist''. ''Why didn't he talk about professionalism or policy or intellect?'' she said.

Tanja Kovac, the national co-convenor of ALP-aligned feminist organisation EMILY's List, said Mr Abbott's latest remarks were ''just another in a long line of lecherous and demeaning comments about women'' that the Opposition Leader had made.

''This is what women have to look forward to if Tony Abbott becomes PM - a man who will only give you the time of day if you float his boat. He will be, as George Bush Junior was for the United States, an international embarrassment for modern Australia if he is elected.

At a campaign event in Brisbane on Tuesday night, Mr Abbott was asked whether he regretted saying Ms Scott had "sex appeal". 

"I was a bit exuberant today," Mr Abbott said. "Fiona [Scott] and I have been mates for a long time ... It's obvious that Fiona is a smart, hard-working candidate who knows the electorate backwards and inside out."

Mr Abbott's afternoon was supposed to be a cheery one. It began well enough when he arrived in the Penrith car park, Liberals waving balloons whistling and chanting "Tony! Tony!".

Then Jaymes Diaz arrived.

Journalists swooped, asking Mr Diaz whether he now knew the six points of the Coalition's asylum seeker policy after his disastrous TV interview last week. He declined to respond and made a bee-line for a getaway car.

Earlier, Mr Abbott visited Colo Heights to announce $100 million to build mobile phone base stations in black spots around Australia.

Residents were ecstatic about the plans but journalists were less thrilled about launching a mobile phone black spot policy in a mobile black spot.

It was a modern twist on the tree falling in the woods.

Namely: if a politician announces a policy in a mobile phone black spot, did the policy ever really exist?

with Judith Ireland

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