Australian PM won't watch sex-under-flag TV scene

AP News
Posted: Sep 21, 2011 3:06 AM
Australian PM won't watch sex-under-flag TV scene

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Wednesday that she did not plan to watch a TV program showing two comedians playing her and her partner blanketed by the national flag after having sex on her office floor.

The third episode of the satirical series "At Home With Julia," which was to be aired Wednesday night by the government-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp., has been widely criticized by lawmakers and the media as disrespectful to the Australian flag and the post of prime minister.

The four-part series has been more broadly condemned as unfunny and a sexist depiction of Australia's first female prime minister

But Gillard would not buy into the controversy over the flag scene.

"I won't be watching it and I'm not intending to comment on it," Gillard told Nine Network television early Wednesday. "I've got some bigger things on my mind."

Gillard had initially expressed enthusiasm for the series, and producers were permitted to shoot some scenes on the grounds of her official Canberra residence. She had the first episode recorded for her when it was aired Sept. 7 while she was in New Zealand.

"I think people who know me well know I've got a pretty good sense of humor, so I expect to be laughing when I watch it," she said at the time.

Lawmakers from her Labor Party and the conservative opposition united in their condemnation of the flag scene.

Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten conceded that some people considered it funny that Gillard's terrier in the series was named after him because the dog was always at her heels _ a jibe at his leadership ambitions.

"But once you have got the prime minister and the flag _ I find it personally tasteless," Shorten told reporters.

Opposition lawmaker John Forrest called on the ABC to pull the episode.

"I've spat the dummy," Forrest told The Age newspaper, using a common Australian expression that likened his reaction to a child's tantrum.

"Desecrating the flag is not on," he said.

The ABC defended the scene, saying it was not gratuitous in the context of the 30-minute episode.

"If it's OK for others to drape themselves in our flag for all manner of occasions, we really don't see why it can't be draped over our prime minister as a symbol of love," the ABC said in a statement.

Gillard is a novelty in Australian politics. As well as being Australia's first female prime minister, she is also the first premier to live in the official residence with a common-law partner, hairdresser Tim Mathieson.