Australian PM Gillard subject of 'grossly sexist' menu

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday accused the opposition of a pattern of misogynist behaviour, branding a menu for a party fundraiser "grossly sexist and offensive" after it featured a quail dish named after her that offered "small breasts" and "huge thighs".

The menu was used at a dinner in March for Mr Mal Brough, a former government minister under prime minister John Howard and now an opposition candidate for the September national elections.

Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey was the guest of honour.

The menu surfaced on Twitter only on Wednesday, listing a dish called "Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail: Small Breasts and Huge Thighs and A Big Red Box".

Conservative Liberal opposition leader Tony Abbott condemned the description.

But the flame-haired Gillard, whose comments on misogyny last year won her global acclaim, said it demonstrated a "pattern of behaviour" within Liberal ranks and called for Mr Abbott to disendorse Mr Brough.

"I've certainly been very clear on my view about Mr Abbott," Ms Gillard told reporters, in reference to the parliamentary misogyny tirade which was directed at her conservative counterpart and went viral.

"Here we are yet again, Mr Abbott saying that he condemns behaviour but we see a pattern of behaviour. It doesn't go away," she said.

Ms Gillard said Mr Abbott had previously stood next to signs which described her in a sexist way, including as a bitch and witch, and young Liberals had hosted a function where jokes were made about the death of her father.

"And now, we have Mr Brough and Mr Hockey sat a function with this grossly sexist and offensive menu on display. Join the dots," she said.

Ms Gillard said that if Mr Abbott were elected prime minister on Sept 14, as predicted by opinion polls, "it wouldn't be a question of what's on fundraising menus, we'd see this lack of respect for women littered throughout all of his government policy documents".

The menu emerged a day after Ms Gillard reignited the gender war with a speech in which she said the conservative opposition would marginalise women if they won the upcoming election.

Ms Gillard, the nation's first female leader, warned that government would be dominated by "men in blue ties" should Mr Abbott assume office.

"On that day, Sept 14, we are going to make a big decision as a nation," she told the launch of Labour group "Women for Gillard".

"It's a decision about whether, once again, we will banish women's voice from the core of our political life.

"We don't want to live in an Australia where abortion again becomes the political plaything of men who think they know better," she added.

The opposition called the comments a "crude political ploy from a desperate PM leading a bitterly divided party" and demanded an apology.

But Mr Abbott, and the Liberal National Party, said the menu went too far.

"I think we should all be bigger and better than that; whether it's a tacky, scatological menu out the front of a Liberal Party event, whether it's squalid jokes told at union conference dinners with ministers present," Mr Abbott said.

"Whatever it is, I think we should be better than that. I think we should be appealing to every Australian's best self as we go into this election."

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