"Yet another cat-call incident, this time from the Labor side, sent Parliament into uproar today and guaranteed the expected rowdy end of the session before the winter break.
The "meow" came from the Government backbenches as Liberal Deputy Leader Julie Bishop was seconding an Opposition bid to launch a censure motion aimed at the Government's carbon plan.
Speaker Harry Jenkins twice said he had not heard the feline reference during rowdy exchanges, but invited the unnamed culprit to withdraw it. No Labor MP stood to take the blame as the Opposition loudly said they knew who it was and pointed.
After the vote, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the noise had been made by Government Whip Joel Fitzgibbon and that she had instructed him to personally apologise to Ms Bishop. She said that "as a woman in Parliament" she considered the remark was inappropriate.
The incident followed a Senate committee hearing about a month ago in which Liberal David Bushby made a similar noise directed at Finance Minister Penny Wong. Senator Bushby later apologised in public and personally to Senator Wong.
That didn't stop women's affairs minister Tanya Plibersek raising the matter in Parliament. Today the Opposition accused Ms Plibersek of hypocrisy for not protesting the "meow" from her own side. She indicated she had not heard it.
I am not at all clear what is offensive about a "meow". There must be a lot of offensive cats around. I guess it is a way of saying that a woman is catty.
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