Anthony Albanese sparked an uproar in parliament on Thursday afternoon with an allegedly “disrespectful” gesture towards Deputy Liberal Leader Sussan Ley.
The Prime Minister has taken to “shooing away” Liberal MPs in the last fortnight during Question Time, but his gesture on Thursday left Ms Ley asking how seriously he took his pledge to treat women with respect at work.
“Anthony Albanese has talked a really big game about making parliament a more respectful, fit-for-purpose workplace,” she told news.com.au.
“I don‘t mind the rough and tumble of politics, but I do mind the hypocrisy that he displayed in Question Time today.
“If Anthony Albanese wants to be rude to a woman and dismissively wave her away when she’s trying to speak in parliament, that’s a choice for him, but it’s completely out of step with the values of a modern workplace in this country.”
The gesture, which was not fully captured by the parliament’s cameras, sparked uproar and interjections when he made it.
“The PM made a dismissive gesture towards the Deputy Leader of the Opposition,” Manager of Opposition Business Paul Fletcher told the House.
“It was disrespectful to a senior female parliamentarian and I ask him to withdraw that.”
The Speaker of the House, Milton Dick, said he had not seen the gesture, but added that if the Prime Minister had done something disrespectful he should withdraw.
Liberal MPs interjected: “Apologise!”
It‘s not the first time Mr Albanese has been accused of disrespectful conduct towards Ms Ley.
Seven years ago he sparked controversy by interjecting “smash her” as Labor MP Catherine King interrupted Ms Ley in parliament to make a point of order.
The Liberal Party has been targeting the Prime Minister in Question Time over CFMEU donations, accusing members of the union of verbally abusing women in the workplace.
“Why does the Prime Minister keep dismissing this issue when the welfare of 150,000 women working in the construction sector is at stake?” he was asked on Thursday.
“As I have said repeatedly, behaviour such as that, which she has described, is completely unacceptable,” the Prime Minister said.
“My principle is also that all workers should be subject to the same laws and regulations as others. It is not a radical proposition that we are putting forward here. Our workplace relations system must be based upon fairness, mutual trust, respect and obeying the rule of law. That is our position. Simple as that.”