Julia Gillard may have been hoping for a debate on education when she logged in for a Facebook live chat this afternoon — instead, she got sexist taunts and was told to “get my dinner ready”.

In the one-hour live Q and A chat, the Prime Minister responded to 13 users’ questions about education, discussing the Gonski report and the national curriculum. She responded to users’ comments about their favourite teachers, and answered questions about school resources, curricula and her promise to make Australian education in the top five countries by 2025.

But the users’ posts descended into sexist trolling; the worst comments were mostly posted just after the session finished.

Gillard and her team ignored these posts, but other users responded angrily to a comment from Matthew Van Den Bos asking “How’s your dad?” in reference to the recent death of her father, with whom she had a close relationship. The death of Gillard’s father has been in the news again because broadcaster Alan Jones claimed he “died of shame” due to his daughter’s political lies. (Jones has since apologised and now claims he is the victim of unfair cyber bullying in relation to his comments.)

The post relating to Gillard’s father appears to have been removed from the Facebook page, but other offensive posts still remain, making it unclear if it was removed by the user or by the PM’s team. Many of the trolls comments were sexual, calling Gillard a “slut” and saying “Are your pubes as radiant, shiny and glorious as mine?”. Most (possibly all) offensive posts were posted by males.

The Q and A was part of the Prime Minister’s social media competition in which users nominate their favourite teacher.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey