Australia outback mayor wins annual sexist award

Thu Nov 20, 2008 9:19pm EST
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CANBERRA (Reuters) - An Australian outback mayor's plea for lovelorn female "ugly ducklings" to move to a remote mining town to reverse a shortage of eligible women has won him the country's yearly award for outrageous sexism.

Mount Isa Mayor John Malony infuriated women in August with a suggestion that "with five blokes to every girl, may I suggest that beauty-disadvantaged women should proceed to Mount Isa," in northwest Queensland state.

"I think the message is ever vigilant, ever watchful, keeping people, keeping blokes on their toes and making sure that we name and shame them," annual Ernies' award organizer and lawmaker Meredith Burgmann told state radio.

The annual awards have 10 categories and are decided by the level of boos, jeers and stamping of feet at women's-only event held at the New South Wales state parliament in Sydney.

Malony earned his top golden Ernie award with a defense that "The protesters are blaming me for their looks."

At the time, the mayor said he was "telling it like it is" in a testosterone-laden town more famous for cowboys and mining lead, silver, copper and zinc than for matchmaking, sitting atop one of the world's biggest underground mines.

Malony got only slightly more boos to win his award than Troy Buswell, the former opposition leader and serving Treasurer of Western Australia state, who earlier this year was accused of sniffing a female staffer's chair and snapping a bra strap.

Major television network Channel Nine won an award for sacking a senior female reporter while she was on maternity leave, with news chief John Westacott reportedly saying female reporters needed to be sexually alluring to succeed.

"Sheilas do health and consumer stories. You want your blokes, your main guns, doing the real news stories," he said.

National conservative politician Sophie Mirabella won a silver "Elaine" award for comments "least helpful to the sisterhood" after taunting female Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard for being childless.

Rugby Union international Brendan Cannon won the yearly Good Ernie "for boys behaving better" after saying: "I don't want my daughter Phoebe growing up in the country where almost all women will be victims of physical violence or sexual abuse during their lifetimes." (Reporting by Rob Taylor; Editing by Valerie Lee)