Australia PM Tony Abbott says his wink was 'a mistake'

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks during the Official Welcome Home Celebration For The 2014 Sochi Olympians And Paralympians at Museum of Contemporary Art on 9 May in Sydney, Australia. Mr Abbott has been accused of sexism and acting insensitively in the past

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Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said that it was "regrettable" that he winked and smiled during a chat with a distressed voter.

The gaffe, which drew intense criticism, comes as Mr Abbott battles fury from some voters over his latest budget.

Many see proposals to cut health and education spending as Mr Abbott backtracking on election promises.

Hundreds have staged protests in Australian cities against the budget.

Mr Abbott had appeared on a Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio show on Wednesday to defend his proposals.

A woman who identified herself as "Gloria" called in, saying she was a chronically ill 67-year-old grandmother and that she would have to pay more for medical treatment under the new budget.

Mr Abbott winks and grins when the woman says: "I work on an adult sex line to make ends meet, now that's the only way I can do it."

He then appears to control himself by pursing his lips, glances at the video camera filming him in the studio, then puts on a serious expression.

Clips of the incident were later circulated online and on national media, prompting criticism that Mr Abbott was sexist and lacked empathy for voters.

He told Australia's Channel Nine on Thursday morning that it was a mistake.

"I shouldn't have done it... I should've been more focused on the caller and less focused on the interviewer,'' he said.

He was attempting to engage with the caller and was "momentarily distracted" by the radio show whom he said was "smiling at me and I winked back at him".

"Mistakes are always regrettable... and I will do my best having made a mistake yesterday to make none today," he said.

On Wednesday he told another radio station that he was reacting to "an interesting call from someone who had an interesting story".

Meanwhile "Gloria" contacted the radio show again on Thursday and said Mr Abbott's actions were "sleazy, slimy".

It is not the first time Mr Abbott has been accused of insensitivity towards women. He was accused of being a misogynist by former prime minister Julia Gillard in 2012 - a label he has strongly rejected.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    well AUSTRALIA IS NOW PAYING THE PRICE of being to reliant on the wealth that was generated from the mining industry and instead of spending the revenue wisely the last government got its self in to debt and now the nation is facing years of cut backs in government spending until the debt is paid off or at least reduced to a reasonable level

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Countries with best surplus from cia factbook are in order:Kuwait,Macau,Congo,Norway,Brunei,Saint Kitts. Which country does Abbott aspire to? Doubtfully Norway it looks after its citizens, It seems the less you offer your constituents the better the budget surplus which is Abbotts approach. Can imagine Abbott doing a Benny Hill tap on Peter Garretts sayin rich get richer the poor get the piture.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    Government does not have its own money and in debt. Paying $ 1 Billions a month interest on Labor debt.
    If we don't need to pay $ 1 Billions interest and then Government can spend more on Public services. Activist, Green & Labor still want to continue borrow money & do not want to scarify for Nation.
    Do they have any idea for how to pay back debt?
    They only asking free service and free money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    Australia is a terribly racist country with a brutal human rights record. It is hardly surprising their PM behaves in the way he does.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    Abbott is a shrewd, inarticulate and consistently negative politician. He is also somewhat of a pugilist always willing to use physical aggression when confronted. He has limited intellectual ability but his dogged adherence to neoliberal ideology gives an appearance of political substance to his supporters.

    Rupert Murdoch engineered Abbotts ascension to the highest office in the nation.


Comments 5 of 116


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