Mayor of Mount Isa wins Ernie Award for sexism

By Angela Dorizas

The Mayor of Mount Isa John Moloney took out first place in the annual Ernie Awards for sexism, held last night at New South Wales Parliament House.

There was no shortage of nominees for the 2008 Ernies, which name and shame public figures caught making sexist remarks about women.

The Gold Ernie Award went to Cr Moloney for his offensive comments about Mount Isa’s gender imbalance. In August, the mayor invited “beauty-disadvantaged” women to travel to the town to end the “female drought."

"May I suggest if there are five blokes to every girl, we should find out where there are beauty-disadvantaged women and ask them to proceed to Mount Isa,” Cr Moloney was quoted as saying.

"Quite often you will see walking down the street a lass who is not so attractive with a wide smile on her face. Whether it is recollection of something previous or anticipation for the next evening, there is a degree of happiness.”

The Political Ernie went to former Western Australian Treasurer Troy Buswell, for his chair-sniffing and bra-snapping behaviour that saw him dropped as the WA Liberal leader.

Federal Opposition frontbencher Tony Abbott was awarded the Repeat Offender Ernie for the fourth time running, while Professor Mark Wooden took out the Industrial Ernie for suggesting that the pay equity gap was due to women refusing to work longer hours.

The Elaine award for remarks unhelpful to the sisterhood went to Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella, who taunted Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard about not having children. During a debate on taxpayer-funded staff at the Lodge, Ms Mirabella pointed to Ms Gillard and said, “You won’t need his taxpayer funded nanny will you.”

Solicitor Roland Day received the Judicial Ernie for remarks made in court about a young sexual assualt victim. He said of the 13-year-old, "never at any stage did this witness show upset, exhaustion or stress. In fact in my respectful opinion there was a level of enjoyment at the attention."

The inaugural Ernie Awards were held in 1993 to celebrate the retirement of a trade union secretary named Ernie Ecob, who was notorious for his sexist remarks about women. Founder and organiser of the Ernie Awards, former NSW parliamentarian Meredith Burgmann, told ABC Radio National that politicians were among the worst offenders.

“I would like to think that some groups, some categories have got better, as I said trade union officials have got better, judges have got better, but politicians are still terrible, sporting stars are still terrible,” Dr Burgmann said.

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