A high-profile Australian political candidate apologised yesterday for a menu at one of his fundraisers, featuring a quail dish named after Prime Minister Julia Gillard which was described as having "small breasts" and "huge thighs" and made a vulgar reference to her genitalia.
The incident was the latest example of gender warfare that has become a part of the Australian political scene since Gillard became the nation's first woman prime minister.
Former government minister Mal Brough, running for the conservative Liberal Party opposition at national elections in September, said the vulgar menu was devised by a non-party member who thought it would be "humorous".
Brough told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation he had neither seen nor approved the menu and was "deeply apologetic".
The menu for the event in March offered a dish called "Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail: Small Breasts and Huge Thighs and A Big Red ***".
It emerged on Twitter a day after Gillard, whose comments on misogyny last year won her global acclaim, reignited the gender war with a speech in which she said the conservative opposition would marginalise women if they won the upcoming election.
Gillard, the nation's first female leader, warned that government would be dominated by "men in blue ties" should Tony Abbott win the September 14 vote as opinion polls are predicting.
"On that day, 14 September, we are going to make a big decision as a nation," she told the launch of Labor 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.
"She's clearly trying to distract attention from her own self-inflicted political woes," Deputy Opposition leader Julie Bishop told ABC radio. "We would expect a PM to seek to unite the country, not divide it through some false gender war."
But conservative attempts to dismiss the issue were undermined by the emergence of the menu yesterday. Opposition leader Abbott, and others in the Liberal/National coalition, condemned the menu. "I think we should all be bigger and better than that," Abbott said.
Additional reporting by BloombergTopics: Sexism Julia Gillard