Nearly made me throw my laptop across the room. How frustrating is this man? And if he is about to be our new PM I just don't know what I will do... - G
Tony Abbott highlights Liberal candidate Fiona Scott's 'sex appeal' during campaign event By political reporter Latika Bourke, staff Updated Wed Aug 14, 2013 12:09am AEST
VIDEO: Tony Abbott says the Liberal candidate Fiona Scott has 'sex appeal' (ABC News) PHOTO: Tony Abbott has attracted criticism for his comments about candidate Fiona Scott. (AAP: Alan Porritt) RELATED STORY: Gillard raises abortion issue in gender attack on Coalition MAP: Sydney 2000 Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has highlighted a female candidate's "sex appeal" while spruiking her credentials for election.
Mr Abbott was campaigning in the Western Sydney seat of Lindsay yesterday when he was asked what the Liberal candidate Fiona Scott had in common with the last Liberal MP Jackie Kelly.
"They're young, feisty, I think I can probably say have a bit of sex appeal and they're just very connected with the local area," he said.
Mr Abbott was standing between Ms Scott and his daughter, both of whom laughed at the sex appeal comment.
Ms Kelly told the ABC she had two children, was organising school art shows and was pushing 50 years of age.
"There's not much sex appeal here," she said.
VIDEO: Exuberant Abbott skirts sex appeal comment (ABC News) Labor frontbencher Kim Carr seized on the remarks, labelling Mr Abbott "pathetic".
However, Mr Abbott said later on Tuesday that he was simply being "exuberant" when reporters asked him about Ms Scott, who is running for the seat held by Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury by a margin of 1.1 per cent.
"She's a mate of mine, I was exuberant, she's a hard working candidate who knows the electorate inside and out and I'm really proud to be associated with her," he said.
Keep up with all the happenings on the campaign trail with our live election blog. 'He's pathetic, he really is pathetic': Carr
AUDIO: Listen to the story (PM) The Government says Mr Abbott's remarks sit against the backdrop of former prime minister Julia Gillard's attacks on the Liberal leader, when she called him a misogynist during a speech to Federal Parliament.
Labor frontbencher Kim Carr says Mr Abbott is stuck in the past.
"He's pathetic, he really is pathetic," he said.
"Sometimes we should think Tony Abbott really hasn't crawled out of the 1950s."
However, Coalition finance spokesman Andrew Robb says people should not be "too precious" about Mr Abbott's comments.
Mr Robb says the comment was made "largely in jest" and no offence was meant or taken.
"He's got three strong-minded daughters, he's got sisters, one of whom's gay, he's got a highly competent and strong wife ... a very pleasant wife in Margie," Mr Robb said.
"Look - he's an average sort of person as far as these sort of things go and we've just got to not start to get too precious about this."
New South Wales Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward, who is also a former sex discrimination commissioner, has told Macquarie Radio she sees nothing wrong with drawing attention to a candidate's sex appeal.
"I think a lot of politicians are described as sexy," she said.
"I mean, I didn't think Bob Hawke or Paul Keating were particularly sexy.
"I liked them but I didn't think... their sex appeal was often said.
"I think it's not unsurprising that people who want to take on leadership positions have a bit of pizzazz... a bit of charisma."
A day earlier, Mr Abbott said "no one is the suppository of all wisdom" when criticising Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's campaign style.