An Australian mayor who invited ugly women to move to his outback mining town, saying even they would find a man there, has won the top “award” for the most sexist public comment of the year.
Mayor John Moloney of remote Mount Isa was chosen by the volume of boos, jeers and stamping of feet that greeted his nomination at the annual women-only Ernie Awards in the New South Wales parliament on Thursday night.
Moloney won the Golden Ernie for telling a newspaper that his town, where men outnumber women, was a place for “ugly ducklings to flourish into beautiful swans.”
He called on “beauty-disadvantaged” women to flock there, saying he often saw unattractive women in Mount Isa who looked like they were enjoying life in the northwestern Queensland town.
“Quite often you will see walking down the street a lass who is not so attractive with a wide smile on her face,” he said. “Whether it is recollection of something previous or anticipation for the next evening, there is a degree of happiness.”
He later told national radio that obese women could even lose weight under the gaze of Mount Isa males.
“There’s a great incentive because there’s that much attention focused on them and they become interested in looking better — and in no time they just shed it,” he said.
Confronted by a protest by scores of insulted Mount Isa women, he said: “The protesters are blaming me for their looks.”
An unrepentant Moloney told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation yesterday that news of his remarks had sparked interest in Mount Isa among women internationally.
“I had a lot of e-mail responses from women around the world who wanted to come to Mount Isa and no doubt some of those people have come to Mount Isa and found the happiness they sought,” he said.
Western Australia’s state Treasurer Troy Buswell won the Political Ernie for sniffing the chair a female staffer had been sitting on and snapping the bra of another.
Nine Network television’s news chief John Westacott won the Media Ernie for saying “Sheilas do health and consumer stories — you want your blokes, your main guns, doing the real news stories.”
The awards, now in their 16th year, aim to shame men for outrageous sexism.
The Ernies’ chief organizer, former state parliamentarian Meredith Burgmann, read out the nominees and judges decreed the winners based on the volume of jeering.
“I think the message is ever vigilant, ever watchful, keeping people, keeping blokes on their toes and making sure that we name and shame them,” she said.