SYDNEY: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was accused on Monday of craving “a world where men do the big jobs and women do the ironing” after saying his biggest achievement for females was reducing household bills by axing a carbon tax.
The backlash came after he unveiled sweeping changes on Sunday to his ministry, dumping Defense Minister David Johnston, promoting Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and appointing only his second woman to the cabinet.
It followed recent opinion polls showing his personal approval rating and that of his conservative government had plunged over tough spending cuts and perceived broken promises since coming to power late last year.
Abbott hit the airwaves on Monday to sell the reshuffle as a “reset and refocus” for the new year, but found himself the brunt of criticism after saying his biggest achievement for women this year was repealing the carbon tax.
“As many of us know, women are particularly focused on the household budget and the repeal of the carbon tax means a Aus$550 [$447] a year benefit for the average family,” Abbott, who doubles up as minister for women, told the Nine Network.
In opposition Abbott, who was accused of sexism by former leader Julia Gillard in an infamous speech about misogyny, claimed repealing the tax would help women by lowing electricity costs associated with ironing.
Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese told Fairfax Media Abbott was stuck in a time warp.
“The problem isn’t that Tony Abbott’s stuck in the past, it’s that he wants the rest of Australia to go back there and keep him company in a world where men do the big jobs and women do the ironing,” he said.
Labor Senate leader Penny Wong added: “I think we can safely say that time and time again, over and over again, Tony Abbott just reminds us how out of touch he is with the lives of women in modern Australia.”