One of my favourite awards, the Ernies are awarded for sexist public comments. The annual Ernie Awards have 10 categories and are decided by the level of boos, jeers and stamping of feet at the women’s only event held at the New South Wales Parliament.
This year the Golden Ernie was awarded to the Mayor of Mount Isa, Councillor John Moloney for suggesting that ugly women should move to Mount Isa, in NW Queensland where men outnumber women 5:1, to find themselves a husband. “May I suggest if there are five blokes to every girl, we should find out where there are beauty-disadvantaged women and ask them to proceed to Mount Isa,” Cr Molony said. But it was when local women retaliated against the comment that Mr Molony earned his golden Ernie award by replying, “The protesters are blaming me for their looks.”
Winners of the Silver Ernies, from whom the Golden Ernie winner is chosen were:
- Western Australia’s Treasurer Troy Buswell picked up the Political Ernie for snapping the bra of a female Labor staffer, making sexist remarks to a Liberal MP and famously sniffing the chair of a Liberal staffer.
- The Nine Network’s John Westacott won the Media Ernie for his comment that “Sheilas do health and consumer stories – you want your blokes, your main guns, doing the real news stories.”
- Professor Mark Wooden from the University of Melbourne won the Industrial Ernie for saying – at a National Press Club panel discussion no less – that “The pay equity gap has got a lot to do with the fact that women are not prepared to work longer hours.”
- The hotly contested Elaine Award, “for remarks least helpful to the sisterhood”, went to federal MP Sophie Mirabella for her comment during a debate in parliament about taxpayer funded staff at the lodge. Pointing to Deputy PM Julia Gillard, who does not have children, she said “You won’t need his (Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s) taxpayer funded nanny, will you?”.
- On a positive note, the Good Ernie Award “for boys behaving better” was a dead heat between rugby international Brendan Cannon, and transport company Veolia.
Cannon said, “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” and the Veolia transport company was acknowledged for applying to the Anti-discrimination Commission for exemption from the Anti-Discrimination Act, so they could exclusively employ women drivers “because women are better drivers and gentler on the buses.”