Julia Gillard told Good Morning Britain Piers Morgan he was being “harsh” about Australia.
Julia Gillard told Good Morning Britain Piers Morgan he was being “harsh” about Australia.

UK TV host Piers Morgan savages Australia

BRITISH  television host Piers Morgan has branded Australia the "epitome of misogyny and sexism" during an interview with former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard.

Morgan, a former tabloid newspaper editor, was opening an interview with Ms Gillard and Rose McGowan, the US actress who is among dozens of Hollywood figures to accuse producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, ahead of International Women's Day on Friday.

"Can we start - what does International Women's Day mean to you as - were you Australia's first woman prime minister?" Morgan asked Ms Gillard.

"Ah yes I was, to date only female prime minister," she replied.

"In a country that many people for a long time presumed was kind of the epitome of misogyny and sexism," he interjected, before asking how she found the experience and the progress of equality and feminism around the world.

Morgan is no stranger to controversy and last month labelled Meghan Markle "patronising" and "fake".

Ms Gillard - who was prime minister from 2010 to 2013 and whose speech against misogyny in parliament was seen around the world - was quick to defend Australia.

Piers Morgan thinks Australia is the “epitome of misogyny and sexism”
Piers Morgan thinks Australia is the “epitome of misogyny and sexism”

"I think that's a little harsh on my country because there are issues for women in politics right around the world and leading women in all industries, including the creative arts and Hollywood."

Her fiery misogyny speech was directed at then Opposition leader Tony Abbott - who she blasted for "repulsive double standards" and declared she would "not take lectures by this man about misogyny, I will not...not now, not ever".

The speech has been viewed more than 3m times on YouTube and resonated with women - and men - in Australia and around the world.

Ms Gillard told Good Morning Britain she didn't enjoy the aspects of the role a male prime minister wouldn't have had to endure.

"For me, there was far too much airtime taken by irrelevant issues about gender, what I was wearing, the fact I don't have kids, my body shape which got a fair bit of commentary from my earlobes to everything else. A lot, lot more than a man would get."

 

Rose McGowan and Julia Gillard were interviewed by Piers Morgan about International Womens Day.
Rose McGowan and Julia Gillard were interviewed by Piers Morgan about International Womens Day.

 

She said women leaders faced a certain stereotype that they were "not very likeable, hard boiled".

That meant traits considered good for men were not seen in the same light for female leaders, something Hillary Clinton faced throughout her political career.

"I think there is a difference between being bossy and being seen as bossy - women are much more likely to be bossy than be looked at as the boss," Ms Gillard said.

Morgan suggested to her men do get criticism and suggested women were "perhaps more sensitive".

McGowan told him that wasn't true.

"Men don't get as much of it if you are a public figure, if you're on TV, it's open season on you. The man walking down the street doesn't have it much that way. When it's a private citizen, I think it's a different matter."

Julia Gillard told Morgan he was being “harsh” on Australia.
Julia Gillard told Morgan he was being “harsh” on Australia.

Morgan showed Ms Gillard and McGowan the Gillette advertisement that caused controversy earlier this year.

"Are we all a problem, we need to be recalibrated?" he asked them about the masculinity debate it caused.

Ms Gillard told him it was her belief that it was more a "journey about what masculinity is".

"The concept for what it means to be a man is evolving and changing...why does anyone want to be in a box - you are only a good person if you do (certain) things."

When discussion turned to transgender rights, in particular debate about the role they can play in sports, Ms Gillard told him simply it was about figuring out "what we are trying to achieve".

"Fair competition where everyone gets treated the same, where everyone gets treated with respect...behind the whole issue of treatment of transgender is has been too long

dismissed, ignored, not treated with respect.

"Even the language around it matters, let's not set it up as victims and potential cheats; there's an issue here - it would be good if we tried to solve it."

Ms Gillard has spoken about the role of women in politics since she left parliament in 2013 and was appointed chair of the London-based Global Institute for Women's Leadership last year.

In her 2014 autobiography, My Story, she wrote of the qualities women in power need to survive, with personal and professional resilience one of the strongest required.

andrew.koubaridis@news.com.au