Ben Rhodes, the former deputy national security advisor to Barack Obama, has revealed the former White House team frequently deferred to Julia Gillard’s 2020 misogyny speech when they were angered by former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
As SBS reports, the claims were made by Rhodes while appearing on an episode of A Rational Fear, a podcast which sees “Australia’s best comedic voices and experts savage the news”.
The speech which Rhodes refers to was delivered in Australian parliament in October of 2012 by then-Australian Prime Minister Gillard, and was inspired by allegations of sexism from then-opposition leader Tony Abbott.
“The Leader of the Opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office,” Gillard said during her address.
“Well I hope the Leader of the Opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation. Because if he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn’t need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror. That’s what he needs.”
According to Rhodes, members of Obama’s White House team regularly found themselves revisiting the speech, seemingly using it as a form of catharsis inspired by an unwanted need to have to work with Abbott during his time as Prime Minister.
“I will tell you that whenever we were really annoyed with Tony Abbott, we would watch the video of that speech by Julia Gillard,” Rhodes claimed. “That speech got watched a lot in the Obama White House, let me just put it that way.”
Elsewhere in his appearance on the podcast, Rhodes labelled Abbott as “tone deaf” in regards to issues relating to climate, and noted how Obama went “way off the script” while addressing Australia’s need to “step up” regarding the impending threat of climate change.
“He just went way off the text, and was just basically blasting the Abbott government in ways that he almost never did on foreign soil and pointing out the Great Barrier Reef disappearing,” Rhodes recalled.
In addition to noting that there was “no secret” Abbott was far from being Obama’s “favourite leader”, Rhodes also claimed the former Prime Minister’s hubris left the White House team with a sour taste in their mouths.
“What was frustrating with Abbott, you know, is he was kind of very sure of himself without really knowing what he was talking about,” he explained.