PM Julia Gillard’s Cleavage Display Rocks Australian Parliament (VIDEOS & PHOTOS)

By @vitthernandez on

A new debate is shaping up in Australia's political scene. And it is not whether Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott or Kevin Rudd would make the better prime minister. It is whether the country's first female prime minister was appropriate in showing cleavage while in the legislature.

The debate over Ms Gillard's buxom fashion comes after sexism issues floated when an offensive menu described the PM as a quail with small breasts and huge thighs. The menu was presented at a Liberal fundraiser in March.

Is it Ms Gillard's way of disproving that she has small breasts?

Among the critics of Ms Gillard's wardrobe in parliament is Fairfax columnist and industrial relations consultant Grace Collier who said at an ABC Radio panel discussion on Sunday that it was wrong for the PM to display too much flesh during parliamentary sittings.

"It's not something I want to see. In my opinion as an industrial relations consultant, it is inappropriate to be in Parliament, it is disrespectful to yourself and to the Australian community and to the parliament to present yourself in a manner that is unprofessional," Ms Collier was quoted by News.com.au.

"In every Australian workplace we have certain standards of presentation and conduct. It's not just about personal presentation. It's about conduct," she added.

In defense of Ms Gillard, feminist and social commentator Eva Cox told Ms Collier, "I think you are showing a considerable prejudice against a woman who dresses quite conservatively, very reasonably."

Ms Collier stressed that she does not want to see any politician's flesh in Parliament, but Ms Cox countered, "Men don't have breasts to show."

The PM and even her live-in partner, Tim Mathieson, were recently involved in sexism issues besides the quail reference to Ms Gillard.

She used the menu issue to resurrect misogynist charges she had leveled against Mr Abbott, the leader of the Coalition.

"This is Tony Abbott's Liberals, this is what they're like, the real risk for Australia is if Tony Abbott was ever Prime Minister it wouldn't be a question of what is on a fundraising menu, we would see this lack of respect for women littered through his government decisions," Ms Gillard said.

Last week, a radio Perth shock jock Howard Sattler was stood down by Fairfax for asking the PM if Mr Mathieson is gay because of his work as a hairdresser, which is stereotyped as a gay job.

In suspending Mr Sattler pending an internal inquiry, 6PR station manager Martin Boylen said the DJ's questions to Ms Gillard were disrespectful and irrelevant to the political debate.

In 2011, a TV programme parodied Ms Gillard and Mr Mathieson with even intimate scenes in the ABC show At Home With Julia.

Despite Ms Gillard's strong personality that at times appear to border on the masculine which prompted an expert to suggest that she tone down to win more women's vote in the Sept 14 election, the PM has also shown her feminine side.

One example is her wearing high heels on state visits which caused her to slip while in India.

Another was as a modern Cinderella, losing her shoe when protesters attacked a restaurant where she was addressing a gathering.

Ms Gillard is in her early 50s, never been married and never had children.