A senior Australian politician has suffered a furious backlash for reportedly making a tasteless and insensitive joke about wanting some male attention.
Liberal Party federal vice-president Teena McQueen allegedly said: “I would kill to be sexually harassed at the moment,” during a meeting with three colleagues.
However, though the 76-year-old grandmother has since admitted to making a self-deprecatory quip, she insists she didn’t utter those exact words.
“What I said was, at my age — and it was a joke — every woman ages and I’m no longer sexually harassed, which is a fair comment considering I’m a grandmother,” McQueen told news.com.au.
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“I have apologised and I’ve said I regret the comment — clearly I will no longer make any off-the-cuff jokes — even though it was a comment about myself, but I will certainly not go there again.”
Reflecting on her comments, she acknowledged that she had made light of a serious matter.
“At the time it was a throwaway line,” she said. “My intent was not to make light of a serious situation but on reflection I can see why.”
Yet, when told of McQueen’s version of events, the three women remained adamant that she said: “I would kill to be sexually harassed at the moment,” again, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Twitter users have responded with outrage at her alleged comments, hitting out at both McQueen and her party.
The fallout comes amid a spate of rape and sexual harrassment allegations across Australia’s political sphere.
Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, recently came forward claiming she had been raped in the country’s parliamentary building.
Elsewhere, a video has emerged of a male staffer masturbating on a female MP’s desk, and backbench MP Andrew Laming has announced his imminent resignation after it emerged that he had photographed a woman’s bottom while her underwear was visible.
The New South Wales Liberal Party division has now voted to adopt a new code of conduct clarifying that the party will show zero tolerance towards bullying, sexual harassment, vilification, physical violence or discrimination.
Yet, it was at a meeting on this code of conduct that McQueen is accused of making her sexual harrassment “joke.”
Several formal complaints about her comments have been made to the state director.
However, when probed on the situation, a spokesman speaking on behalf of the federal and NSW Liberal parties told the Sydney Morning Herlad: “The matters you’ve raised are internal matters for the party and we are unable to comment”.