Coalition talking points show the opposition intends to argue that Anthony Albanese is not ‘Prime Minister’ and will continue to insist that he apologize to Michelle Landry, suggesting that he was trying to ‘humiliate’ her in Parliament on Thursday and ‘get personal’.
Albanese has rejected calls from the Coalition to publicly apologize to the national MP, insisting she was “actually laughing” during a heated exchange with the opposition leader.
The Prime Minister blamed the incident on Peter Dutton for trying to correct his pronunciation of Queensland towns by calling “Yeppoon” during a reply from Albanese which actually referred to the Yeppen floodplain. The Prime Minister warned Dutton to “expect a response” for his intervention.
Related: Coalition MP Michelle Landry accuses Anthony Albanese of ‘bullying’ her in parliament
During Question Time on Thursday, Landry, the MP for Capricornia, said Albanese had breached a “personal guarantee” over funding for a road project in her constituency near Rockhampton in Queensland.
Albanese started talking about the work being done on the Yeppen floodplain in the area. Dutton then seemed to jump in, calling the word “Yeppoon” across the room. Albanese replied, louder than before: “Yeppoon is a different place.
Landry was seen laughing on a video feed from parliament.
Albanese continued to mock Dutton, before appearing to turn to Landry, who was also intervening.
“You have been in government for almost a decade and you have not dug a hole in the project. Environmental clearances are not over,” he said.
“We are going to do this project like we did the Yeppen floodplain, like we also did roads to Yeppoon.”
After Question Time, Liberal Deputy Leader Sussan Ley said Landry left the House “in tears.” Landry then held a press conference accusing Albanese of “bullying”.
In Ley’s talking points, seen by Guardian Australia, the Coalition says the incident “is not about politics” and says “Anthony Albanese’s behavior has still not been Prime Minister”.
“His job is not to humiliate or get personal, it’s his job to answer the questions we ask as the opposition.”
“He needs to realize parliament is a place of work, it’s not there to just ‘fight the Tories’, it’s there to run the nation and a lot of Australians are doing it hard.
“I know what I saw, my colleagues too and… when a colleague comes to my office in tears, I will defend her.
“Mr Prime Minister, this needs to stop. He needs to apologize to Michelle in Parliament.
On Friday, Albanese told Sky News the footage shows “an exchange with Peter Dutton, not the Capricornia member”.
“He didn’t differentiate his Yeppoon from his Yeppen. They are two different places,” he said. “He thought he was smart, saying I was somehow mispronouncing [the name].”
Albanese said the footage “meanwhile shows Michelle Landry actually laughing at my response.”
“It was in a good mood. A bit of a Queenslander joke, which is, of course, a reference to the fact that Peter Dutton didn’t seem to know his Yeppoon from his Yeppen and that’s why [when] the speaker looked at him, [he] says there is nothing to see here.
Albanese said he called Landry because he’s “always worried if someone’s upset,” but insisted Dutton should “expect an answer” for intervening in a response.
Former Liberal MP Julia Banks accused the Coalition of “fake outrage” over the issue:
Landry told Sky News Dutton had made a ‘real mistake’ over the place names, but slammed Albanese for ‘shouting’ him after he ‘tried on’ the Leader of the Opposition.
“I had male and female co-workers sitting behind me saying management was pointing straight at me,” she said.
“I’m not a wallflower, I’m not a feminist by any means but I just felt like it was out of control…he was screaming right at me, pointing at me, then when it ended, all its deputies, men and women, laughing, mocking and pointing.
“If you watch this whole footage, you see it took the speaker a while to get the hang of them…I just felt like I was humiliated in there yesterday.”
Landry argued that if “Peter Dutton did this to one of their female politicians, every leftist organization in the country would be outraged”.
Landry said Albanese’s response was “to make it look like I hadn’t done anything in the nine years [since] I had been elected”.
She noted that the Prime Minister ‘called me and apologised’ but said, ‘if he didn’t think there was a problem why did he call me to ask? excuse?”
“It’s done now. But my female colleagues from the Coalition have decided to denounce it because we are tired of being treated like doormats.
“It’s time people realized that conservative women are human beings too, it’s not just about the left.”