Australian politician to apologize over meowing incident


Models dressed as Catwoman arrive at the European Premiere of the Halle Berry film "Catwoman" in London.


Dave Hogan

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Thursday ordered one of her MPs, Joel Fitzgibbon, to personally say sorry to deputy oppposition leader Julie Bishop, after he meowed at her during a debate on carbon tax.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper said the incident, which occurred as Bishop was seconding a bid to censure the government's carbon plan, sent the parliament into uproar.

The culprit was not immediately known, but Fitzgibbon was soon outed by finger-pointing members of the opposition, before confessing.

The Australian newspaper reported that back in 2008, Bishop was herself guilty of cat-calling, when she directed a meow at Gillard in parliament, with an accompanying claw action. The paper even dubbed Bishop "Catwoman".

But despite her hairy history with Bishop, Gillard was quick to rebuke her colleague for the cat call. She told parliament:

This was clearly the wrong thing to do. I will be requiring him to apologize personally to the deputy leader of the opposition.

Gillard added that “as a woman in Parliament”, she felt the behaviour was “inappropriate and wrong”.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott thanked Gillard for what he described as “an extremely gracious statement, after quite a taxing debate”.

Back in May, Liberal party member David Bushby apologized both in public and personally to Senator Wong over this meowing incident posted on the internet.

In a statement released after question time Thursday, Minister for the Status of Women Kate Ellis said women in parliament, like women in any workplace, were entitled to equal treatment in every respect.

She said parliament should be a leader in this regard, and urged all MPs to maintain the highest standards of professional conduct.