Nicolle Flint is a Liberal Member of the House of Representatives, representing the seat of Boothby in South Australia. She was initially elected in 2016 and was re-elected in 20191. ABC Presenter and Adelaide Advertiser’s Sunday Mail columnist Peter Goers received a copy of a newsletter which Flint sent out to her constituents, and he wrote in that Murdoch rag “Nicolle wears pearl earrings and a pearly smile. She favours a vast wardrobe of blazers, coats and tight, black, ankle-freezing trousers and stiletto heels. She presents herself in her own newsletter, 23 times as a fashion plate. She has blazers and coats in black, blue, pink, red, beige, green, white, cream, floral and two in grey.”2
At this, Flint bridled and, on July 27th, tweeted: “Sick of sexist garbage? I am, which is why I’m calling out [ABC Adelaide’s] Peter Goers rubbish views about my appearance, published in yesterday’s [Adelaide Advertiser’s] Sunday Mail. It’s time women in public life are judged on what they stand for, not what they look like. #GarbagelikeGoers”2
She received considerable support online. Sarah Hanson Young, who herself has been the target of much more virulent language from such disgraceful right-wing nut jobs as former Senator David Leyonhjelm (which cost him $120,000 in damages), tweeted support: “Good on Nicolle Flint for standing up and calling out the constant sexism dished out to women in politics. Doesn’t matter what side you are on, no woman should have to put up with sexism in the workplace.” Liberal Member for Mackellar (New South Wales), Jason Falinski, also supported Flint and tweeted: “This kind of behaviour absolutely needs to be called out. Very well said Nicolle Flint, we’re right there with you.”2 While one could not disagree with the sentiment that women should be judged by what they stand up for, not what they stand up in, I was moved to ask Flint in a tweet: “Can you send a link to where you called out the sexist scum who did the same to Julia Gillard?”3 Of course, no reply was forthcoming.
While the disgraceful behaviour aimed at Julia Gillard may have been before Flint’s and Falinski’s time in parliament, they have been members of the Liberal Party for much longer, so presumably they had seen the opprobrium heaped on Julia Gillard from the likes of Alan Jones. It makes you wonder if they had then ‘called it out’. It was Jones who said Gillard should be tied in a chaff bag and dumped out at sea. At a rally fronted by opposition leader Tony Abbott, and parliamentarians Ken Wyatt, Bronwyn Bishop and Sophie Mirabella, there were placards calling Gillard “Bob Brown’s bitch” and asking someone to “ditch the witch”4. On the menu at a Liberal National Party dinner, there was one item which said: “Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail, Small Breasts, Huge Thighs, and a Big Red Box”5. I suspect Flint and Falinski would not have called out such disgraceful behaviour; after all, no-one in the Liberal Party did at the time, not even the few women then in the parliamentary party. It was largely left up to Julia Gillard herself, in her famous misogyny speech, to berate Abbott6. Indeed, at the time, one of the most ‘respected’ members of the Liberal Party, Julie Bishop, defended Abbott5. Sexism seems perfectly fine when it is aimed at anyone other than a member of the Liberal Party.