In making a reference to just "Mr Councillor", rather than Ms or Mrs, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack offended female local government representatives from across the country.
One of those women was Albury deputy mayor Amanda Cohn.
Councillors have gathered in Canberra this week for the National General Assembly of Local Government and heard from speakers including Mr McCormack.
He had been trying to talk up the benefits of local councils being the ones to decide what projects should receive federal government funding.
"It goes to people who are in the direct line of fire in the supermarket aisle when somebody comes up and says 'why isn't Smith Street or Jones Avenue got a proper bitumen on it - why isn't it the case Mr Mayor, Mr Councillor, Mr General Manager?'," Mr McCormack said in his speech on Monday.
The comments created an audible murmur in the room before he moved on with his speech.
"Does he think that women leaders don't exist, or that no one hits us up at the shops?" Cr Cohn tweeted from the conference.
“So when a citizen hits you up in the aisle and says Mr Mayor, Mr Councillor, Mr GM you can say...”— Amanda Cohn (@DrAmandaCohn) June 17, 2019
- Deputy PM this morning, addressing the National General Assembly of Local Government
Does he think that women leaders don’t exist, or that no one hits us up at the shops? 🤷♀️🙄
She told The Border Mail it was a shame women are underrepresented in local government and was not happy with Mr McCormack's words.
"Part of the frustration of the comment is that assumption that leaders are all male," she said.
"If it was just a slip of the tongue, he was given an opportunity to correct himself, but he chose not to."
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But Mr McCormack did receive a round of applause when he said local government should be included in the constitution.
"I know we've had a referendum on it before, but next time when it goes up - and it has to and it should and it must - we have to get the wording right and we have to put it in at a time when the Australian voting public is in a mood that they're going to carry it," he said.
"There can probably be no more informative thing for the Commonwealth to be able to fund local government directly, so we can avoid the bureaucracy."
Cr Cohn said she agreed with council being made part of the constitution because it is currently only part of state governments.
"At the moment the state government can do what they want with us," she said.
"We're at the level of government that's closest to the community."
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