HIGH-PROFILE saleyards advocate Gerald Madden is at the centre of a sexism row, following a contentious radio interview on the livestock exchange issue.
Mr Madden made the comments in an ABC radio interview following Monday night’s marathon council meeting, claiming Cr Kylie Gaston and Cr Jacinta Ermacora weren’t “smart” enough to present their own views.
The former Moyne Shire mayor claimed the two councillors had been peddling City Council chief executive Bruce Anson’s agenda of closing the Caramut Road saleyards and moving to independent operations based outside the municipality.
“I don’t think the two female councillors are that smart that they could bring up the wording themselves,” Mr Madden told ABC Radio yesterday morning.
But Mr Madden rejected accusations of sexism when interviewed by The Standard, saying he stood by comments that Crs Gaston and Ermacora were influenced by Mr Anson but added their gender was not a factor.
“There wasn’t any element of sexism in what I said,” the former Moyne mayor said.
“What I was trying to say is the chief executive had directly influenced the two councillors, irrespective of what gender they are.
“I just made the observation that they had a pre-arranged idea of what they were going to say.”
Cr Ermacora and Cr Gaston made a joint statement on the issue, saying they wanted to read the transcript of what Mr Madden said before taking any further action.
Mr Anson said he was “flabbergasted” by Mr Madden’s comments, adding that he did not tell councillors what to say or how to vote. “Those comments are clearly offensive,” Mr Anson said.
“Both councillors are highly intelligent individuals and those comments are not just insulting to Crs Ermacora and Gaston, but to all women.”
Cr Ermacora would not refer to Mr Madden directly but said sexism had no place in public discourse.
“Everybody deserves respect, whether that’s based on gender or education or whatever characteristic,” she said.
In a joint statement, Crs Ermacora and Gaston stated they had requested a transcript of yesterday morning’s interview from the ABC and would consider what action to take after they had read its contents.
“We are extremely concerned about verbal reports that have been repeated to us (about the Madden interview),” the statement read.
Warrnambool mayor Michael Neoh said he had not heard the comments but said sexism had no place in modern Australia.
“All sexist comments are totally unacceptable but I haven’t heard the comments directly, so I can’t speak about them specifically,” Cr Neoh said.
Mr Madden served as Moyne Shire mayor for several terms in the mid-2000s and ran as the National Party candidate for South West Coast at the 2002 state election.