The Mayor of Port Stephens, in NSW’s Hunter region, has edged out Andrew Bolt and Mark Latham to win the top prize at the 2017 Ernie Awards, Australia’s annual awards for sexism.
The awards, which were announced at NSW Parliament House on Thursday night, recognise men (and women) who have made particular progress in entrenching gender norms and stifling the fight for equality over the past year.
Port Stephens Mayor Bruce MacKenzie took out the night’s “Gold Ernie” for his decision to name a domestic violence shelter after himself, despite having pleaded guilty to the assault of his partner in 1997.
MacKenzie, who received a 12-month good behaviour bond and an AVO following the incident, sparked outrage from local domestic violence workers when he announced a new shelter in Raymond Terrace would be named the “Bruce MacKenzie Centre”. Port Stephens Council later reversed its decision to name the shelter after MacKenzie, who retired from local government earlier this month.
Now in its 25th year, the Ernie Awards can be traced back to the resignation of secretary of the AWU, then known as the Shearers’ Union, Ernie Ecob in 1993.
Ecob was infamous for his comment that women only wanted to become shearers for the sex.
To celebrate Ecob’s departure, a lunch was held. Forty women attended the event, where a trophy featuring a portrait of Ecob was awarded for “the most bestial remark of the year”.
Now, over 300 women gather to see awards handed out in six Ernie categories, including a “Good Ernie” for a group that has lifted their game on gender equality (the 2017 recipients were the Australian Cricketers’ Association, for their solidarity with the sport’s women’s teams as they fought for a salary increase).
Former president of the NSW Legislative Council, and Ernies founder, Dr Meredith Burgmann said the 2017 winners were all “depressingly excellent” and that Mackenzie’s performance was a standout.
This year saw the Clinton award (for a habitual offender) renamed “The Trump”, for what Dr Burgmann described as “obvious reasons”. Mark Latham won the honour, for reasons similarly obvious.
Ernie Awards winners: full list
GOLD ERNIE & SILVER ERNIE (POLITICAL)
Port Stephens Mayor Bruce MacKenzie attempting to name a domestic violence shelter after himself despite having a domestic violence conviction.
SILVER ERNIE (MEDIA)
Andrew Bolt for these comments on a Human Rights Commission Report which found that 51 per cent of students were sexually harassed last year: “Yes, we should be shocked and visibly upset… that the Commission perpetrated such a hoax. We should be shocked and upset that not one university boss had the guts to call out this fraud of a study.”
SILVER ERNIE (JUDICIAL)
Victorian County Court Judge Christopher Ryan for referring to a 14-year-old sexual assault victim as “nubile” and “worldly”.
County Court judge Christopher Ryan said during Abad’s trial that the girl had appeared “older than her years”. Photo: Ken Irwin
SILVER ERNIE (INDUSTRIAL)
Ford Dealers for dismissing the complaints of women whose Ford Focus models repeatedly lost power without warning as being an issue with “their driving style”.
THE WARNEY (SPORT)
Dale Simmons, president of the Cervantes Tiger Sharks Football Club in Western Australia, for calling AFL umpire Eleni Gloutfsis, “a dopey mole” and “a stupid bitch”. Simmons also claimed Gloutfsis would change her mind on umpiring decisions because she was a woman, and implied she would be better suited to the “Mothers/Daughters” roster in the canteen.
THE FRED (CLERICAL)
Keysar Trad, President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, who said during an appearance on Andrew Bolt’s radio show in February that “using violence against women is a last resort for men, step three after counselling, buying her chocolates or taking her out to dinner”. Trad later apologised for what he described as “clumsy” comments.
Keysar Trad made clumsy comments on The Andrew Bolt Show. Photo: Louise Kennerley
THE ELAINE (REMARKS LEAST HELPFUL TO THE SISTERHOOD)
Daily Telegraph columnist Louise Roberts, for her line, “If I’m getting paid less than a man for doing the same job, its not his fault. It is mine, through life choices I have made for myself.” (Published under the headline, It’s true – the gender pay gap is a myth.)
THE GOOD ERNIE (BOYS BEHAVING BETTER)
The Australian Cricketers’ Association for holding out to win women cricketers a pay increase.
Cricket Australia’s new agenda is all about women. Photo: AP
THE TRUMP (HABITUAL OFFENDER)
Mark Latham announced as the Trump.