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TV & Radio

Jun 17, 2013

'Human booby trap' Grace Collier obsessed with PM cleavage

Radio National on a Sunday morning is not where you would normally expect a debate over the Prime Minister's cleavage. But commentator Grace Collier kicked off a panel discussion with it yesterday morning.

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Radio National on a Sunday morning is not where you would normally expect a debate over the Prime Minister’s cleavage.

But yesterday industrial relations consultant and media commentator Grace “how dare you call me right-wing” Collier was a guest on the Outsiders segment of Radio National’s Sunday Extra, hosted by Jonathan Green, along with Crikey’s Bernard Keane and sociologist and social commentator Eva Cox.

The summary for discussion was “Blue ties, quail breasts and hairdressers: the Pandora’s box of political s-xism has been opened again”, and this exchange certainly lived up to the claim:

Collier: … I can imagine myself already being burnt at the stake here for saying this but, you are, as an individual in public life, you are treated in a certain way and this is about relationships. The Prime Minister, in my view, has a dysfunctional relationship with the Australian populace and there is an element there of responsibility to fall on her shoulders … I’ve never heard anybody attacking her for being a woman, to say how “how dare you Julia, you are a woman”.
Green: Grace, I think you should get out more often.
Cox: Read some of the commentaries, read some of the stuff there. I mean, which male Prime Minister has ever been asked whether his wife that is actually having s-x with him at that particular time or having s-x with some other woman. I mean, they would not do it to a man.
Collier: Well, also I agree with that but also, I don’t think it is appropriate for a Prime Minister to be showing her cleavage in Parliament. It is not something …
Keane: Oh, for goodness sake … what a load of …
Cox: Come on, Grace …
Collier: Well, I think it is inappropriate and unprofessional …
Keane: Grace, can you … explain
Collier: No, I … No Bernard, I’m not here to explain to you. I think it is just … I’m entitled to my opinion.
Keane: Just explain … just explain
Green: One at a time …
Collier: I’d like to finish my point.
Keane: … is somehow not related to the fact that she’s a woman. How can you …
Collier: Well, I’d like to finish my point please.
Keane: … calling her barren. Or George Brandis bagging her for not having kids, or Janet Albrechtsen bagging her for not having kids. How is that not related to her being a woman?
Collier: Well, I’m not going to defend any of those comments, all I’m saying …
Keane: But you just said she doesn’t get criticised for …
Collier: Excuse me, let me finish please …
Green: Hang on, Bernard.
Collier: I’m not here to defend the Liberal Party, I’m not here to defend people you perceive as right-wing. I am not one of the Right. OK? What I will say, and this is my opinion, and I’m not speaking for women and I’m not speaking for anyone other than me. In my opinion, as an industrial relations consultant, it is inappropriate to be in Parliament, it is disrespectful to yourself and to the Australian community and to the parliament, to present yourself in a manner that is unprofessional. In every Australian workplaces we have certain standards of presentation and conduct. It is not just about personal presentation, it is about conduct.
Cox: I think you’re showing a considerable prejudice against a woman who normally dresses very conservatively, very reasonably and I think criticism of her dress …
Collier: Well, I’m sorry Eva but there’s a number of …
Keane: Why is the Right so obsessed with the Prime Minister’s body?
Collier: Well, who says I’m right-wing? Excuse me. How dare you …
Keane: If it isn’t her thighs, it is her breasts …
Cox: You are coming across as being …
Collier: I just think it is inappropriate. I don’t want to see any politician’s flesh in parliament.
Green: Let’s move along from body parts.
Cox: Men don’t have breasts to show.

Host Green steered the discussion to other matters but somehow the panel wasn’t finished with the PM’s breasts and Collier’s comments quite yet.

Collier: I am firmly behind the Prime Minister on this. Unless she decides …
Keane: … except when she is showing cleavage.
Collier: I made that comment. I don’t think it is appropriate, okay. I would never show cleavage in my workplace. You’ll never see that from me.
Keane: I am just amazed that the Right is so obsessed with the Prime Minister’s body. I can’t get over it, it’s just astonishing …
Collier: Bernard, I’m amazed that you see me as a Right person. You wouldn’t know me or my politics. You are actually incorrect.

The start of Collier’s crusade (for want of a better term) against the Prime Ministerial cleavage seems to begin on Twitter on May 4. Click here for the original tweet and some illuminating comments.

The picture comes from The Weekend Australian‘s Inquirer section from  May 4:

A few weeks later, Collier got riled up by the topic again:

For those unfamiliar with Collier, she earlier this year gave evidence by affidavit in the Federal Court matter of Director of the Fair Work Building Inspectorate v Automotive, Food, Metals, Engineering, Printing and Kindred Industries Union in Feburary this year. In that matter, which concerned a blockade at the Werribee sewage treatment works, Collier provided evidence in her capacity as an IR consultant for Tedra Australia Pty Ltd, the head contractor of the works. Collier’s evidence was referred to by Justice Shane Marshall in the following passage in his judgement of February 14 2013:

Concerns with the evidence of Ms Collier

“… The conversation between Mr Mavromatis and Ms Collier at about 6.45 am on Wednesday, 6 February 2013 was also recorded by Ms Collier. She achieved this by secreting a device in her bra. The transcript of that recording is riddled with crossings out, hand-written additions and various changes. It is of no probative value.
“Quite properly, the applicant, as a model litigant, did not attempt to tender into evidence any transcript (intelligible or otherwise) of Ms Collier’s recording on her computer of the telephone conversation she initiated with Mr Mavromatis at about 12.30 pm on 6 February 2013. Ms Collier’s conduct in that respect raises a serious concern as to whether she has breached the provisions of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (Cth). In the absence of any detail as to the precise circumstances of that recording, the Court is unable, at present, to say any more about that matter. Indeed, it would be inappropriate to do so.”

Notwithstanding the Court’s assessment of her evidence, three weeks later Ms Collier noted her experience in a diary entry in The Spectator:

‘Tape recorder in bra “entrapped”union man,’ teases the headline. My partner, Peter, and I sit up in bed sipping über-strong coffee, served in beautiful china. We are looking over various articles spread out on the sheets discussing where I hid my recording device as I taped a conversation with a certain union official. Peter leans over and speaks into my décolletage: ‘Testing one two three, testing one two three’. A Federal Court Judge expressed concerns and wanted to know if I thought I was in a James Bond movie after I admitted using a concealed recorder to tape an AMWU organiser. Peter expresses concerns about the whereabouts of the bra and wants to know if he can sell it on eBay. (‘It’s in the wash,’ I reply, ‘along with your stinking socks.’) Numerous calls and witty texts come in from my mates. Hedley Thomas from the Australian rings up. ‘Grace!’ he bellows, eager to share his renowned word skills with me: ‘You’re a human booby trap!’ ‘Oh Hedley,’ I sigh, ‘it’s all a storm in a D cup.’

In response to the weekend’s panel discussion, Keane today added:

“You would think there was plenty in the Gillard government’s policy and political record to dispute and critique, even on gender issues (single mothers and Newstart, anyone?) but the relentless tendency of some to come back Julia Gillard’s body is remarkable — whether it’s Bill Heffernan or George Brandis or Janet Albrechtsen discussing her childlessness, or Larry Pickering portraying her as a dildo-wearing r-pist, or anti-carbon price protesters portraying her as the s-xual possession of Bob Brown, or shockjocks directing misogynist abuse at her or News Ltd columnists peddling rumours about the nature of her relationship with her partner. Collier’s fixation with the Prime Ministerial cleavage is part and parcel of this obsession. Her only response was to insist that she wasn’t of the Right — an argument a brief read of her frothingson IR, the evils of Australian unions and the AWU “scandal” for will rapidly dispel. Perhaps she expects that even the more perfervid obsessives in conservative ranks won’t want to have anything to do with her after this.”

I’ve searched the interwebs for other references to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s cleavage, in trying to find some basis other than her own opinion for Collier’s views. All I’ve found are several reference in online comments, including some comments on a Michael Smith News article from late December 2012 and another comment on Catallaxy Files in late November 2012.

Bob Gosford — Editor of The Northern Myth

Bob Gosford

Editor of The Northern Myth

Darwin-based journalist and The Northern Myth blogger

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