Julia Gillard’s cleavage and Grace Collier, the “human booby trap”
What happens when a “human booby-trap” shares her professional views on Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s parliamentary dress-sense?
Collier had earlier tweeted that she was hopeful of “lift[ing] the mood a little at 9.30 when I come on” following what she described as being a “depressing discussion about happiness!” between host Green and a national treasure, cartoonist Michael Leunig.
Earlier this year Collier gave evidence by affidavit in the Federal Court matter of Director of the Fair Work Building Inspectorate v Automotive, Food, Metals, Engineering, Printing and Kindred Industries Union  FCA 82 (14 February 2013) before Justice Shane Marshall. In that matter, which concerned a blockade at one of my favourite places in Melbourne, the Werribee sewage treatment works, a Ms Wendy Grace Collier (she appears to have dropped the Wendy) provided evidence in her capacity as an IR consultant for Tedra Australia Pty Ltd, the head contractor of the works.
Ms Collier’s evidence was referred to by Marshall J in the following passage in his judgement of 14 February 2013:
Concerns with the evidence of Ms Collier
Ms Collier said that in a conversation which occurred between “Monday, 4 February and Thursday [sic], 6 February”, she discussed with Mr Mavromatis where the figure of four men came from. She said that Mr Mavromatis said words to the effect that he wanted the four Filipino workers sacked or removed from the site. She said she could not recall exactly during which conversation Mr Mavromatis said those words. Mr Mavromatis denies ever making such a demand to Ms Collier.
Before making the above claim, Ms Collier had been careful to relate the content of actual discussions in their sequence. The above assertion must be treated cautiously. Ms Collier had no discussion with Mr Mavromatis concerning the site until Tuesday, 5 February 2013, so the reference to 4 February 2013 may be dismissed.
Ms Collier recorded the discussions with Mr Mavromatis and “Nick” at the site office on 5 February 2013. She placed a “device” near her handbag. The applicant arranged to have the recording transcribed. The transcription is inadequate. Much of the conversation is attributed to people who did not utter the words attributed to them and multiple hand-written corrections have been made. It would be unsafe to rely on this material to be satisfied as to any particular fact, other than that the meeting occurred.
The same considerations apply to the taping of a conversation with Mr Mavromatis at about 11.30 am on 5 February 2013 at the front of the site. In that conversation Ms Collier said that she asked Mr Mavromatis “what would it take for the picket to go away” and that he replied with words to the effect that “Tedra had to hire local labour” and that “Tedra needed to hire four men”.
The conversation between Mr Mavromatis and Ms Collier at about 6.45 am on Wednesday, 6 February 2013 was also recorded by Ms Collier. She achieved this by secreting a device in her bra. The transcript of that recording is riddled with crossings out, hand-written additions and various changes. It is of no probative value.
Quite properly, the applicant, as a model litigant, did not attempt to tender into evidence any transcript (intelligible or otherwise) of Ms Collier’s recording on her computer of the telephone conversation she initiated with Mr Mavromatis at about 12.30 pm on 6 February 2013. Ms Collier’s conduct in that respect raises a serious concern as to whether she has breached the provisions of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (Cth). In the absence of any detail as to the precise circumstances of that recording, the Court is unable, at present, to say any more about that matter. Indeed, it would be inappropriate to do so.
It is unnecessary for current purposes to deal with any other concerns with Ms Collier’s evidence.
Notwithstanding the Court’s assessment of her evidence, three weeks later Ms Collier noted her experience in a Diary entry in The Spectator:
‘Tape recorder in bra “entrapped” union man,’ teases the headline. My partner, Peter, and I sit up in bed sipping über-strong coffee, served in beautiful china. We are looking over various articles spread out on the sheets discussing where I hid my recording device as I taped a conversation with a certain union official. Peter leans over and speaks into my décolletage: ‘Testing one two three, testing one two three.’ A Federal Court Judge expressed concerns and wanted to know if I thought I was in a James Bond movie after I admitted using a concealed recorder to tape an AMWU organiser. Peter expresses concerns about the whereabouts of the bra and wants to know if he can sell it on eBay. (‘It’s in the wash,’ I reply, ‘along with your stinking socks.’) Numerous calls and witty texts come in from my mates. Hedley Thomas from the Australian rings up. ‘Grace!’ he bellows, eager to share his renowned word skills with me: ‘You’re a human booby trap!’ ‘Oh Hedley,’ I sigh, ‘it’s all a storm in a D cup.’
Anyway, back to Sunday Extra.
Jonathan Green was hosting Crikey’s National Affairs Editor, Bernard Keane; writer, feminist, sociologist and social commentator Eva Cox and the aforementioned Ms Collier. The summary for discussion was “Blue ties, quail breasts and hairdressers: the Pandora’s box of political sexism has been opened again.” The segment kicked off with some robust discussion about affairs of state and the extraordinary political week just passed.
Collier reckoned that Gillard’s blue tie comments had made herself the “butt of everyone’s jokes” and that Gillard’s misogyny speech was “confected” and unimpressive and that “You know, Women’s rights and issues that affect women are actually serious and are actually important and its not something you can just pick up off the floor and use as a shield when you want. When it is convenient and then discard it the minute that its not convenient.”
Eva Cox pulled up Collier as being “too tough” on the PM and undervaluing Gillard’s contribution and that the misogyny speech was a genuine expression of her outrage.
Then followed this exchange.
Collier: … I can imagine myself already being burnt at the stake for saying this but, umm, you are, as an individual in public life you are treated in a certain way and this is about relationships. The Prime Minister, in my view, has a dysfunctional relationship with the Australian populace and there is an element there of responsibility to fall on her shoulders … I’ve never heard anyone attacking her for being a woman.
Green: Grace, I think you should get out more often.
Cox: Read some of the commentaries, read some of the stuff there. I mean, which male Prime Minister has ever been asked if his wife that is actually having sex with him at that particular time or having sex with some other woman. I mean they would not do it to a man.
Collier: Well, also I agree with that but also, I don’t think it is appropriate for a Prime Minister to be showing her cleavage in parliament. It is not something …
Keane: Oh, for goodness sake … what a load of …
Cox: Come one Grace …
Collier: Well, I think it is inappropriate and unprofessional …
Keane: Grace, can you … explain
Collier: No, I … No Bernard, I’m not here to explain to you. I think it is just … I’m entitled to my opinion.
Keane: Just explain … just explain
Green: One at a time …
Collier: I’d like to finish my point.
Keane: … is somehow not related to the fact that she’s a woman. How can you …
Collier: Well, I’d like to finish my point please.
Keane: … calling her barren. Or George Brandis bagging her for not having kids, or Janet Albrechtsen bagging her for not having kids. How is that not related to her being a woman?
Collier: Well, I’m not going to defend any of those comments, all I’m saying …
Keane: But you just said she doesn’t get criticised for …
Collier: Excuse me, let me finish please …
Green: Hang on Bernard.
Collier: I’m not here to defend the Liberal Party, I’m not here to defend people you perceive as right-wing. I am not one of the right. Okay? What I will say, and this is my opinion, and I’m not speaking for women and I’m not speaking for anyone other than me. 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. In every Australian workplaces we have certain standards of presentation and conduct. It is not just about personal presentation, it is about conduct.
Cox: I think you’re showing a considerable prejudice against a woman who normally dresses very conservatively, very reasonably …
Collier: Well, I’m sorry Eva but theres a number of …
Keane: Why is the right so obsessed with the Prime Minister’s body?
Collier: Well, who says I’m right-wing? Excuse me. How dare you …
Keane: If it isn’t her thighs, it is her breasts …
Cox: You are coming across as being …
Collier: I just think it is inappropriate. I don’t want to see any politician’s flesh in parliament.
Green: Lets move along.
Cox: Men don’t have breasts to show.
Host Green steered the discussion to other matters but somehow the panel wasn’t finished with the PM’s breasts and Collier’s comments quite yet.
Collier: I am firmly behind the Prime Minister on this. Unless she decides …
Keane: … she is showing cleavage.
Collier: I made that comment. I don’t think it is appropriate, okay. I would never show cleavage in my workplace. You’ll never see that from me.
Keane: I am just amazed that the right is so obsessed with the Prime Minister’s body. I can’t …
Collier: Bernard, I’m amazed that you see me as a right person. You wouldn’t know me or my politics. You are actually incorrect.
Cox: We can only judge you on what you say Grace and …
Collier: So, because I don’t like somebody presenting themselves unprofessionally that makes me right? Excuse me, I spend 80 per cent of my time representing people who are unfairly dismissed and helping sacked workers. So I take offence to you labelling me as right.
Keane: As Eva said Grace, we only go on what you say and what you say marks you out pretty clearly.
Collier: And this is why people like me don’t like being on the ABC because you get held up and pilloried as right wing and I find that offensive.
A lively exchange indeed (and there was a fair amount of mixed up conversation so this transcript may not be 100 per cent accurate) and with more to come on this I suspect.
I don’t have cable TV but apparently Collier appears regularly as an commentator on Paul Murray Live on SKY TV.
And, trying to find some basis other than her own opinion for Collier’s views, I’ve searched the interwebs for references to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s cleavage.
All I’ve found are several reference in on-line comments, including the following.
I’m glad Abbott is looking the other way otherwise she would probably be accusing him of perving on her unparliamentary cleavage?
Reply Sunday, 30 December 2012 at 12:52 PM
m m m said…
I am glad that someone mentioned “the cleavage” look in the pink Parliament outfit of Gillard. What no paper ever picks up on is her ongoing efforts to be seen as “feminine.” Not the Merkel look for her or Christmine La Garde etc etc. Gillard has her own hairdresser , get it all blow dried (by his own admission in the H SUN) and she constantly does the little flick away, “girly” thing. She has taken to the cleavage look more and more and the constant wearing of skirts, (despite those horrible legs!)Make up all the time. AND YET SHE CONSTANTLY CRIES OUT THAT SHE IS SICK OF BEING JUDGED FOR BEING A WOMAN!!!! She even made the ridiculous statement after falling flat on her face the “unlike men, who can wear flat shoes…”
The following came from comments at the Catallaxy Files blog in late November 2012:
#654295, posted on November 29, 2012 at 3:19 pm
It’s not too much cleavage but the sloppy top that doesn’t give her good structure and support.
Please feel free to provide further references if you know of any.
* Update 1: Thanks to Robert Corr via Twitter I can add the following Twitpic of an earlier exchange from late May 2013 of Ms Collier’s earlier thoughts about Prime Minister Gillard’s décolletage.
Update 2: here is another Twitpic of a Twitter exchange that (apparently) Ms Grace Collier was involved in. This again from late May 2013.
Update 3 – Thanks to friends on the net for the link to this Tweet by @MsGraceCollier of 4 May 2013 that appears to be the start of Ms Collier’s crusade (for want of a better term) against the Prime Ministerial cleavage. You can see the original Tweet, and the illuminating comments, here: https://twitter.com/MsGraceCollier/status/330448403454627840
** The photograph above is un-sourced and was found in an obscure corner of the internet. If you know of the source I’d be happy to give credit where it is due. *** Update re this – thanks to Bill Walters @4b5 he provides a link to the original photo from this November 2008 piece in The Financial Review. The photo is by Andrew Quilty, was taken in 2006 and accompanies a piece by Leo Shanahan.