NINA YUSTIARTI WRITES – A prominent Australian female politician has come to the defense of two male journalists accused of chauvinism.

Australia’s Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek had just finished a speech at the National Press Club of Australia earlier this month on efforts to close the country’s gender pay gap. The speech was timed to coincide with International Women’s Day.

But the first question came from reporter Tom McIlroy, of the Financial Review, who asked Plibersek about controversy surrounding a coal mining project, a topic decidedly unrelated to the speech.

Plibersek responded with: “We’ve moved off women pretty quickly, haven’t we?” And then went on to give a thoughtful reply.

When reporter Greg Brown from The Australian followed up with more mining questions, other members of the press gallery booed, indicating they thought Plibersek’s speech deserved more attention than this other topic. A heated debate on social media ensued, on whether the two reporters had a “chauvinistic agenda” or were just “doing their jobs.”

Plibersek herself put the controversy to rest. “I’m completely relaxed about journalists asking me whatever they like,” she said. “These journalists were just doing their jobs.”

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott told radio station 2GB that, “It is a pretty standard format: the speaker chooses the subject of the speech and the journalists choose the subject of the questions. If you go to the National Press Club you’ve got to expect questions on anything.”

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