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Media attacks on PM 'sexist', says Greens leader

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Jessica Wright

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Gillard criticism is 'sexist'

The Prime Minister needs a break from "unfair and unrelenting" criticism, says Greens leader Bob Brown.

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The Greens leader Bob Brown has declared the "unrelenting criticism" of Prime Minister Julia Gillard is sexist and said male media commentators were the biggest culprits.

Senator Brown hit out this morning in his first press conference of the parliamentary year at what he perceived was "unfair", sexist criticism of Ms Gillard.

"What I've picked up over the summer holidays is there is a big swing around from the average punter in favour of Julia Gillard," he said.

Greens leader Senator Bob Brown says media attacks on Prime Minister Julia Gillard are sexist.

Greens leader Senator Bob Brown says media attacks on Prime Minister Julia Gillard are sexist. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

"She is getting a rough time and let me state this as others might not be quite so blatant. Quite a bit of the criticism is sexist and unfair and unrelenting and the Prime Minister needs a bit of a break from that and it is time she got that break and the Australian people are indicating she should have it."

Senator Brown said most of the criticism was from men in the media.

"The degree of relentless criticism on this Prime Minister, coming from male commentators, it is probably all subconscious, is sexist and quite ridiculous at times," he said.

Senator Brown said that the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, was in a worse position in the public's eyes, according to the polls, and that he "should be concentrating on consolidating his leadership".

Senator Brown said he believed the government would run full term.

"I expect that Julia Gillard will be leading the government into an election sometime later than this next year."

In an interview with The Australian Financial Review published today, Senator Brown said the speculation over Ms Gillard's hold on the prime ministership was holding back debate on policy.

"It means the government can't get on and do what it needs to do," he said. "There is nothing more destabilising than a rabble within the ranks and for Labor's benefit they need to settle it."

Last night Ms Gillard, in an interview with the Seven Network's Sunday Night, addressed her status as Australia's first female prime minister and whether her job would be easier if she was male.

"Look, I think it's different and I'm not surprised about that," she said. "I mean I grew up watching the prime ministers of this country and if you'd asked me then 'close your eyes and imagine a prime minister' I would have imagined a bloke in a suit.

"Now I'm the first person to not be a bloke in that suit ... so I'm not surprised that it's kind of taking a bit of time for that to settle with the Australian public.

"I don't know whether they support me, I don't know whether they're going to vote for me, but me being here has given them the sense that it is possible for a woman to do anything in this country and that's a great thing."

Interviewer Mike Willesee raised the ire of observers on social network Twitter when he asked the Prime Minister whether she was overly emotional, with many observing he had crossed the line of appropriate questioning.

"Do you cry much?" he asked.

"I'm not someone who's a big person for – no I don't," Ms Gillard replied.

"I'm not someone who would spend a lot of time with tears in my eyes. Does that mean that I don't feel emotions and sadness? Of course it doesn't; everybody's different."

twitter Follow the National Times on Twitter: @NationalTimesAU

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