Anniversary a chance to talk up Gillard's success
The government used the second anniversary of the 2010 election to talk up its achievements, while at the same time trying to paint opposition leader Tony Abbott as a man who has problems dealing with powerful women.
Buoyed by a boost in opinion polls, Labor said Mr Abbott's scare campaign against the carbon tax had backfired. Yesterday's Newspoll had Labor's primary vote up 2 percentage points to 35 per cent, which is the government's best result since the beginning of the year.
The opposition was steady at 45 per cent. On a two-party preferred basis, Labor has halved the Coalition's lead over the past month, although the opposition remains in an election-winning position at 53 per cent to 47 per cent.
In Parliament Mr Abbott again demanded Prime Minister Julia Gillard apologise for stating just days before the election that she would not introduce a price on carbon.
But with the carbon tax having kicked in last month, and polling improved for the government since then, Ms Gillard said the Coalition's scaremongering has been proved wrong.
''And the Leader of the Opposition can see the time now where his destructive, negative fear campaign is going to run out of huff,'' she said.
Ms Gillard had earlier in the day addressed the caucus, telling her team they should be proud of what Labor has achieved since the last federal election.
She said while there was more to do the government had a good story of achievement since the election, one which included creating more than 800,000 jobs, low interest rates and keeping inflation under control. The opposition used the anniversary to try, unsuccessfully, to suspend parliamentary proceedings and censure the Prime Minister.
But it was Mr Abbott who was most under pressure yesterday, after having been ejected from the House of Representatives on Monday by Acting Speaker Anna Burke for defying her ruling.
Government ministers lined up yesterday to accuse the opposition leader of sexist behaviour, saying he could not handle women in authority.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said Mr Abbott's behaviour towards Ms Burke was starkly different to the way he dealt with male speakers.
Ms Plibersek said Mr Abbott was more respectful to Speaker Peter Slipper and his predecessor Harry Jenkins, but was always arguing with Ms Burke and offering unsolicited advice.
And he constantly sledges Ms Gillard across the chamber, she said. ''I think he does find it very difficult that he's dealing with two women in positions of authority,'' Ms Plibersek said.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon also pointed to Mr Abbott's behaviour.
''It does seem to me that he is not very comfortable with capable women,'' she said.
But Mr Abbott rejected the accusations, saying he had no problem at all and that he regularly took orders from his wife and daughters and his female chief of staff. ''I take directions from women everyday,'' he said.
The opposition was also accused of muckraking in relation to events surrounding Ms Gillard's resignation 17 years ago from law firm Slater & Gordon.
Treasurer Wayne Swan said there was no case for Ms Gillard to answer because even the company has said she was not involved in any wrongdoing over work done for an Australian Workers Union boss who was her boyfriend at the time.
''The fact is, the Liberal Party in particular has associated itself with an enormous amount of muckraking, much of it on the internet and some of it on the airwaves,'' Mr Swan said.