FURY OVER ’BABES’ LIST
FORMER emergency services minister Jane Garrett has spoken of her disgust over a grubby list published by former Melbourne city councillor Stephen Mayne, which rated her and other high-profile female Labor government staffers based on their physical and sexual attractiveness.
The “Bracks Babes” list, published by Crikey in 2001 while Mr Mayne was editor, described a senior staffer who embodied “the dominatrix fantasy, powerful, frightening and blonde”.
Others were described as “oozing sex and fun”, “very tasty”, “dark, sensual and very attractive” and “every boy’s dream”.
The list, which Mr Mayne claims was compiled by an anonymous male Labor staffer, was on the Crikey website until yesterday. Ms Garrett, who was targeted in the list, said it was “incredibly disrespectful”. She was disturbed to know it had remained in the public domain.
“It was obviously designed to objectify women, make fun of them and belittle their contribution,” she said.
Ms Garrett said there was a “collective” anger by women named on the list.
“It distressed a lot of people at the time. It’s disturbing to know it was still floating around today.”
Former education adviser Bronwyn Parker said the list made her feel “powerless” and had continued to haunt her.
“I was absolutely repulsed. It was inappropriate and unprofessional,” she said.
Fellow staffer Rebecca Nicholson said her inclusion on the list made her feel unsafe at work.
Mr Mayne, a critic of former lord mayor Robert Doyle during the sexual harassment investigation and a public supporter of the #MeToo campaign, apologised for publishing the list which he first described as “light-hearted”.
“I regret describing it as ‘light-hearted’ even though the male Labor staffer who wrote it framed it in those terms,” he said. “It was terrible and should never have been published and I sincerely apologise to the women concerned for doing so for a short period on November 18, 2001, and for any subsequent inadvertent republication which may have occurred.”
Mr Mayne said he deleted the list within hours of publication but a duplicate version appeared the next year in protest against Crikey being denied access to the state Budget lockup. The article said the Bracks administration was “stacked with hot babes” and “desirable women” who controlled the male-dominated government, and that the list was “cheap, tacky, and an assault on women’s rights”.
Mr Mayne said he was advised the story had been removed in November last year after a complaint was made.
In a statement, Crikey said: “We were appalled by it and took the story down immediately. Crikey holds itself to high standards of integrity and anti-discrimination and apologises unreservedly for the hurt caused to the women mentioned in the story.”
Founder of crikey.com, Stephen Mayne.