Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Liberal candidate Mal Brough should be disendorsed after a menu that made lewd and offensive jokes about her anatomy was used at his fund-raiser.
Ms Gillard slammed the menu as ‘‘grossly sexist and offensive’’ and critised Opposition Leader Tony Abbott for standing by Mr Brough.
‘‘This is Tony Abbott’s Liberals,’’ she said. ‘‘This is what they’re like.’’
The menu, used at an event in March, lists ‘‘Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail’’ before going on to describe it as ‘‘Small breasts, huge thighs & a big red box’’.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek agreed with Ms Gillard, saying she thought Mr Brough’s position as the candidate for the Queensland seat of Fisher was ‘‘untenable’’.
‘‘It would be offensive to any woman to read such a thing about herself,’’ she told reporters in Sydney.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Abbott condemned the menu but said that Mr Brough’s preselection would not be affected. A spokesman for the Liberal National Party also said there were no plans to disendorse Mr Brough. The menu revelation comes as Ms Gillard reignited the so-called ‘‘gender wars’’ on Tuesday, during a speech in which she argued that women's voices in political life would be ''banished" under an Abbott-led Coalition government.
Elements of her speech at a Labor women’s event has drawn fierce criticism from the Coalition – who have called her comments desperate – and has even been questioned by Labor MPs.
But union leader and Gillard supporter Paul Howes tweeted that the menu proved Ms Gillard’s gender attack on the Coalition had been right.
‘‘The irony of course is that Mal Brough and @JoeHockey have proven the PM right despite the LNP’s howls of outrage over the last 12 hours.’’
Liberal frontbencher Joe Hockey has admitted being present at the fundraising dinner where the menus made derogatory remarks about the Prime Minister's appearance.
''It's awful behaviour. Whatever was printed at that event or distributed at that event was wrong,'' Mr Hockey told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday, adding he did not recall having seen the menu.
However, he slammed Ms Gillard for her comments on the appropriateness and misogyny.
''Seriously, is this the biggest event in Australia today?'' asked Mr Hockey, citing job losses, national finances and education reform as the issues that should be on the political agenda.
He also took a swipe at Ms Gillard for suggesting women would be marginalised under a Tony Abbott-led coalition government.
''The prime minister described me as a fat man in parliament not that long ago. I don't think the prime minster is qualified to make these sort of comments and I would urge her to focus on running the nation, to deal with the issues that matter to Australians.''
Earlier a spokesman for Mr Hockey could not confirm the shadow treasurer had attended the event in question, saying Mr Hockey attended a number of fund-raisers.
While addressing reporters in Perth, Ms Gillard questioned Mr Hockey’s response.
‘‘I think there’s a great deal of convenience in that answer for Mr Hockey,’’ she said.
Ms Gillard said that both she and her office found out about the menu via Twitter on Wednesday.
‘‘The first I heard about this was when it started coming to public life through Twitter and I was briefed on it by my media staff,’’ she said.
The menu was widely circulated on social media, after it was posted by @chef09876 on Tuesday night.
The man, based in Brisbane, said he had first seen the photo on a friend’s Facebook page. At the time of the function he had sent a Facebook message to the Prime Minister about the menu, but did not get a response.
He explained he reposted the menu in light of Mr Hockey’s tweets about Ms Gillard’s speech on Tuesday. The shadow treasurer tweeted on Tuesday night that "Gillard's comments on abortion and the Coalition are desperate and offensive. She has never deserved respect and will never receive it."
The event, which the LNP says occurred at a Brisbane restaurant on March 27, was organised by Mr Brough and was attended by about 20 people from local members to businesspeople.
When condemning the menu, Mr Abbott also compared it to an incident last year when a comedian told an off-colour joke about the Opposition Leader and his chief-of-staff Peta Credlin at a Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union dinner.
‘‘Whether it’s a tacky, scatological menu out the front of a Liberal Party event. Whether its squalid jokes told at union conference dinners with ministers present. Whatever it is, I think we should be better than that,’’ he said.
The ABC reports that Mr Brough has apologised for the menu, saying it was drawn up by someone who was not an LNP member and who thought it would be ‘‘humorous’’.
It is understood Mr Brough will release a statement about the menu on Wednesday. Fairfax Media has also contacted him for comment.
The LNP has also condemned the menu in the ‘‘strongest terms’’ and confirmed it was used at a ‘‘small local event’’ in March.
‘‘This card was not produced or authorised by the LNP or the candidate. The content of the card was absolutely unacceptable and has no place at any LNP event,’’ it said in a statement.
The menu also makes jokes about former Labor leader Kevin Rudd and Simon Crean as well as Treasurer Wayne Swan.
It lists ‘‘Rudd’s A Goose Foie Gras’’ and ‘‘Simon Crean Pollen and Grilled Kilcoy Grass-fed Tenderloin’’.
It also features puns such as ‘‘Please ensure you eat up all your greens, before they take over completely,’’ and ‘‘You will be served Liberal amounts of Wine.’’
Mr Rudd, speaking in Sydney, launched a scathing attack on Mr Brough, saying he should donate the money raised from the fund-raiser to the RSPCA.
He dismissed suggestions a mistake had been made, arguing Mr Brough was not an ‘‘inexperienced bozo’’ who had never run for political office.
‘‘Number one, he’s a former minister of the Howard government. Number two, he’s a highly experienced politician. Number three, he organised the fund-raiser . . . Four, it wasn’t a mistake, he knew it was being used. Five, he’s apologised because he’s been found out,’’ he said.
‘‘Mr Brough should be taking a long, hard look at himself because this sort of behaviour is not appropriate in the 21st century.’’
Mr Brough, a former Howard government minister, is the LNP candidate for the seat of Fisher, currently held by former speaker Peter Slipper.
Brisbane Coalition MP Teresa Gambaro also condemned the wording on the menu. ‘‘The wording on the menu is totally inappropriate and highly offensive,’’ she said in a statement.
Last year there were calls for Mr Brough to be disendorsed after a damning Federal Court judgment found he was involved in actions to discredit Mr Slipper.