Australian politician in hot water
Australia's opposition leader has drawn fierce criticism after suggesting that the cost of ironing clothes was a key concern of the country's housewives in the debate around global warming.
Tony Abbot made the comments at a dry cleaning business outside Canberra when explaining to reporters how the price of electricity would rise under a Government scheme to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
But the politician instead turned attention on himself, with critics branding him sexist and 'behind the times'.
He said: "What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it's going to go up in price, and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up."
The comments were widely discussed on talk radio around Australia, with officials quick to condemn them.
"This is a leader and an opposition party that are living in the past," lawmaker Yvette D'Ath told reporters on Tuesday, adding that she found the comments "appalling and patronising".
Health Minister Nicola Roxon, a mother of a young child, said her husband did most of the family's ironing.
"I admit I had a bit of a funny discussion with my husband, who is the ironer in the family, who thought that Mr. Abbott was yet again missing the mark," she said.
Abbott dismissed his critics as "hypersensitive".
"I think in many households, it is still much more common to see the woman of the house with an iron in her hand," Abbott told Macquarie Radio Network, adding that his own appearance would not be nearly as neat if his wife did not iron his clothes.