Tony Abbott has a problem with the ladies - or so the government would like you to think.
Following yesterday's fiery question time in which Mr Abbott was thrown out by Deputy Speaker Anna Burke for defying directions to withdraw a remark ''without qualification'', Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek said today the Opposition Leader has a ''problem'' with being told what to do by women.
Ms Plibersek said Mr Abbott's behaviour in the chamber was markedly different under Ms Burke's supervision than when Peter Slipper or Harry Jenkins had occupied the chair.
''I don't recall him behaving the same way with those two previous speakers,'' she said.
''He's constantly offering unsolicited advice to the Deputy Speaker. He's been constantly sledging the Prime Minister across the table.
''I think he does find it very difficult that he's dealing with two women in positions of authority.''
It is not the first time the charge has been laid against the Opposition Leader but those in his camp laugh off such claims, pointing out Mr Abbott is a father of three daughters and has a female chief-of-staff.
His office is also quick to point out while Ms Gillard is often dubbed ''Lady MacBeth'' by the Coalition, the Prime Minister can give as good as she gets.
Indeed, during yesterday's raucous question time, with no fewer than five opposition MPs ejected, Ms Gillard was ordered to withdraw her latest characterisation of Mr Abbott, the lively ''Jack the Ripper''.
Today, Mr Abbott claimed the mantle of a thoroughly modern man.
''I take directions from women everyday,'' he said.
''I am an entirely modern man in this respect.''
And in March this year Mr Abbott told the National Times the perception he was plagued by an inability to connect with women voters was ''not generally true''.
Leader of the House of Representatives Anthony Albanese agreed with Ms Plibersek's assessment that Ms Burke had been treated with disrespect.
Mr Albanese said the Opposition Leader made incessant interjections across the chamber towards Ms Gillard and had a habit of yelling at female ministers when they were answering questions.
When he was suspended from the house under standing order 94a for one hour, Mr Abbott became the first federal opposition leader in 26 years to be thrown out of the lower house, since John Howard.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said it was common knowledge she and Mr Abbott did not get along.
‘‘Whether that’s because I’m a woman or whether that’s because I win arguments with him, I think is a matter for others to make their summation,’’ she said.
‘‘It does seem to me that he’s not very comfortable with capable women.’’
Ms Roxon was Labor’s health spokeswoman when Mr Abbott was health minister in the Howard government.
Mr Abbott was famously caught on camera swearing at Ms Roxon after he was late to a debate at the press club on health policy during the 2007 election.
‘‘I can tell you as a shadow minister - of course I was the shadow health minister when Mr Abbott was the health minister - and of course you go to events with stakeholders all the time,’’ she said.
‘‘They usually seat you on the head table together because that's what they do. Mostly he would sit with his back to me at those events, to often the distress of I think the stakeholders who really are just trying to be polite.
‘‘As a minister I had really very little to do with him other than in the Parliament, but it does seem to me that he's not very comfortable with capable women, and he obviously hasn't shown the respect that all of us are required to, whoever is holding the speaker's chair, if we're going to actually make the parliament operate properly.’’