In an apparent bid to boost Coalition leader Tony Abbott's declining political stock due to his perceived problem with powerful females, the other women in his family have joined the media blitzkrieg initiated by Margie Abbott, the wife of Mr Abbott.
Among the female family members who showed up at the Friday Liberal women's gathering addressed by Mrs Abbott were Mr Abbott's mother Fay, daughter Frances and sisters Pip Abbott and Christine Forster.
However, women politicians from the Labor Party, now called the handbag hit squad by Liberals, are not buying Mrs Abbott's passionate defense of her husband, who recently was accused by a former female schoolmate at the University of Sydney of bullying after he lost to her in a student body election.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, a member of the handbag hit squad, said she does not take it against Mrs Abbott for defending her husband, but pointed out he is gunning for a national post, not just another title.
"Mr Abbott is not running in some election to be husband of the year or father of the year. It is fair game for me or any other minister . . . to hold him accountable for his public behaviour and his public comments," ABC quoted Ms Roxon on Sunday.
Ms Roxon insisted that Mr Abbott has an issue with capable women. She also cited her personal experienced with the Opposition leader who turns his back whenever the AG speaks in Parliament, refuses to acknowledge her at public events and swore at her when she did not arrive at a debate on time.
"It's known that we don't like each other, but I don't think that there's any reason that I am not able to express those views," ABC quoted Ms Roxon.
Mr Abbott, in turn, blamed the question on his aversion toward strong women to a personal attack on Australian's most politically powerful woman, the Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The Opposition leader pointed out that Labor had a similar campaign against then Liberal candidate in Queensland Campbell Newman.
"In the end the person who's got to take responsibility for what happens with any political party is the leader," Mr Abbott explained why he is blaming Ms Gillard.
Adelaide Now's Laurie Oakes said that while Mrs Abbott is not the first leader's wife to rush to defend her husband under pressure and pointed to Bettina Gorton who defended her husband, then Prime Minister John Gorton, in 1968 when he was seen visiting the U.S. embassy late at night with a female journalist, she said the defense by his family is an indicator of the reality of his women problem.
"It would not provoke such a response unless it was showing up as a serious issue in Liberal polling," Ms Oakes wrote. She added another proof of his problem with women is Mr Abbott's failure to condemn Alan Jones for his foul comment on the death of Ms Abbott's father.
"Abbott's aggression, his unrelenting attack dog image, is a turn-off for women, and it alienates many males as well," she added.
Labor Senator Matt Thistlewaite said the Opposition leader is a danger to Australian women due to his policies. "I think women are worried by Mr Abbott because they know what an Abbott-led government will mean for the welfare for this families," the senator old Sky News.
Mr Abbott hinted that Australians have not heard the last from his wife as he predicted more personal attacks from the handbag hit squad.
"She's not a political person, she's married to a politician, but I think she felt there had been some untruths put into the political arena and she thought it was important to correct the record. Certainly, if the Labor Party persist with this idea that there's some sort of problem with women, the Margie will be there correcting the record again," Mr Abbott said.
"It wasn't a political speech but it was certainly a speech about the kind of family the Abbotts are and the kind of relationship I have with the important women in my life," he said.
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