MPs made ‘indecent, disgusting’ comments about me: Chapman

Attorney-General and deputy Premier Vickie Chapman says she has been the target of numerous “indecent” comments about her appearance and performance, saying she could “spend an entire afternoon” recounting “disgusting” criticism received inside Parliament House.

Mar 18, 2021, updated Mar 18, 2021
Attorney-General Vickie Chapman. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Chapman told Parliament yesterday that she was “not going to bother” recounting each experience, but there was a “litany of occasions” when her dress, appearance, attendance and political contribution had “been criticised and spoken of in a most disgusting manner”.

The most senior female cabinet minister said she “abhorred” the comments and thought it was “disgraceful” that other MPs would be subjected to the same behaviour.

“I could spend the entire afternoon giving you a litany of the occasions on which my dress, appearance, attendance or contribution have been criticised and spoken of in a most disgusting manner, even in this House,” she said, adding that the comments were made by former MPs no longer in Parliament.

“In the rough-and-tumble of debate, the robustness of those contributions has to be taken into account, but some of it has been indecent and objectionable and disgusting.

“I am not going to waste time going through it all.

“I think it is disgraceful if it is imposed on others.”

Chapman made her comments soon after Liberal MP Tim Whetstone came under fire for saying that the Opposition had “got the B team out” as Labor MP Katrine Hildyard rose to ask a question.

The Government was facing a series of questions from female Labor MPs over the funding of safety services for women.

Hildyard, who is Labor’s Shadow Minister for Women, described Whetstone’s comment as “appalling” and “absolutely shameful”.

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“Women are calling for change across our community for an end to gendered violence and they rightly want those who are not with them, like those opposite, to get out of their way,” she said.

Whetstone withdrew the comment, but said his remarks were directed at the Labor Party as a whole.

“I will now speak with my lawyers,” he wrote on Twitter.

Chapman said that the Government had “a commitment to women” and would “advance legislation that is going to improve the lives of women and children in this state”.

“There are many programs that we have done and there are many extra services that we have pursued. Why? Because it matters,” she said.

But Hildyard said the Government had cut funding to multiple services and programs that supported women and Premier Steven Marshall was “going to have to do a whole lot more and a whole lot better than what he and his government have done to date”.

“This government has utterly failed women and it continues to do so,” she said.

The treatment of women in Parliament has been in focus after about 8000 protestors flooded Victoria Square and marched down King William Street on Monday as part of a nationwide protest calling for an end to gendered violence and sexual harassment.

The South Australian protest also called on the State Parliament to implement all 16 recommendations made in a damning Equal Opportunity Commission review into sexual harassment in State Parliament.

Chapman, who this week moved a motion to establish a joint parliamentary committee to implement the review’s recommendations, said that she commended the rally and thought it was important that politicians “do listen, and that we do understand that people will not be silenced”.

“There is no-one more committed to women having opportunity in the future, and I repeat what I live by—that is, we must as parents and guardians do everything we can to educate our girls and teach our boys.”

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