It was a decidedly more upbeat, dare I say it, cocky Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm who appeared on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live show last week to defend his comments about Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
During parliamentary sittings, Leyonhjelm yelled out across the chamber that Hanson-Young should “stop shagging men” during a debate about protecting women in the form of pepper spray and tasers, a debate ultimately sparked by the rape and murder of Eurydice Dixon in Melbourne earlier in June.
Hanson-Young approached Leyonhjelm later to confront him about the comment. He confirmed he made it, then told her to “f**k off”.
But a week is a long time in politics. And that was last week. It was also a ‘friendly’ political interview with a commentator known for, shall we say, some of the more extreme views in the Australian political landscape (Paul Murray Live is shortened to ‘PML’ (Pissed Myself Laughing) for a reason).
Fast forward a few days, and the smile – and cocksure nature – appeared to have evaporated, as Leyonhjelm fronted up for a far less friendly chat overnight with ABC 7:30 host Virginia Trioli.
Indeed, it was a master class in withering, tough, uncompromising political interviewing.
With Hanson-Young confirming yesterday she was seeking legal advice for defamation, an uncharacteristically nervous Leyonhjelm stumbled his way through his interview on 7:30 (and later also on The Project), and seems to have decided that if he was in for a penny, he may as well be in for a pound.
— abc730 (@abc730) July 2, 2018
Trioli opened the interrogation by noting Hanson-Young’s legal threat and inviting Leyonhjelm to withdraw his remarks.
“No, bring it on,” he replied.
After suggesting that Hanson-Young had described all men as “evil, the enemy, rapists, sexual predators”, Trioli asked Leyonhjelm to put up or shut-up – specifically, to point to where Hanson-Young ever said anything even remotely similar. Leyonhjelm claimed it happened in the chamber, and was either ‘words to the affect of’, or precisely as he described. Hanson-Young, for the record, denies saying anything like it.
There followed one of the more uncomfortable (or glorious depending on your leanings) political grillings of the year. Enjoy.
TRIOLI: I’ve often wondered if you’ve ever paused to reflect on why you sometimes have such a reflex to get so personal and, frankly, bitchy when women take you on? Have you stopped and wondered about that?
LEYONHJELM: I don’t accept the premise of your question.
TRIOLI: Let me tell you what it’s based on. It’s based on the comments that you made to Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. It’s made on comments that you made to an elderly woman once who criticized you and you told her to quote ‘Go away and stop proving you’re a bimbo’. I’d say those two examples constitute a reflex to get pretty bitchy with women. Why do you think that is?
LEYONHJELM: Well, let me put it this way. When I am abused, accused of something such as being a sexual predator, along with all the other men in Australia….
TRIOLI: I’m going to jump in there – I don’t think anyone accused you of that, but go on…
LEYONHHJELM: Yes, no, well you weren’t there but I was. And when people irrespective of their age, irrespective of their gender, write obnoxious emails to me – and the woman who wrote that did – I feel I’m perfectly entitled to respond.
TRIOLI: I guess Australians will form their own view on that. Time is tight so we’ll have to leave it there. Senator, thank you.
Thank you indeed.
As an interesting aside, Hanson-Young’s response wasn’t too shabby either.
— abc730 (@abc730) July 2, 2018
Donate To New Matilda
New Matilda is a small, independent media outlet. We survive through reader contributions, and never losing a lawsuit. If you got something from this article, giving something back helps us to continue speaking truth to power. Every little bit counts.