Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s bid to win female votes may have taken a hit after what the Greens described as an ”inappropriate” sexual phrase he levelled at his counterpart.
Asked whether he would take up Prime Minister Julia Gillard in more debates, Mr Abbott ridiculed the invitation, before saying: “Are you suggesting to me that when it comes from Julia, ‘No’ doesn’t mean ‘No’.”
The phrase has become notorious, being referenced in several high-profile court cases, especially when it comes to a women’s right to not have sex.
“When she said ‘No’, I thought she meant ‘No’ … I believed her,” Mr Abbott said.
“You can’t change the rules just because you are in trouble.”
But Mr Abbott hit back in a radio interview this afternoon, saying he had utmost respect for women.
‘‘I’m the father of three daughters,’’ he said on 4BC radio. ‘‘No-one respects women more than I do.’’
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said there should have been three debates, and they should have included the Greens.
”In relation to Tony Abbott’s comments, I do think they’re inappropriate,” she said.
”Like his colleague, Barnaby Joyce, perhaps he is suffering from a bit of foot-in-mouth disease.”
Senator Joyce commented on ABC’s Q&A program last night that asylum seekers could bring foot and mouth disease into the country.
Ms Gillard refused to buy in to questions about Mr Abbott’s remarks.