Canberra, March 8 (IANS) Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison sparked outrage on the International Women's Day on Friday by saying that men should not have to make way for women's empowerment.
"We're not about setting Australians against each other, trying to push some down to lift others up. We want to see women rise. But we don't want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse," Morrison said at a function organized by Australia's Mining Industry, according to CNN.
The Prime Minister, who has been criticized for the lack of female representation among his party's leadership, was slammed on social media for his comments.
"Men who are threatened or worried of women achieving equality is the bloody problem," tweeted Australian Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
Independent MP Kerryn Phelps, who last year won a by-election seat given up by Morrison's predecessor Malcolm Turnbull, gave the Prime Minister "the emoji treatment", posting a single wide-eyed, shocked face in response to his comments.
After the event, Morrison tweeted: "Today is about appreciating all the women in our lives and our nation -- celebrating their value and achievements."
During his speech, Morrison told the Chamber of Minerals and Energy that a stronger Australian economy would improve job prospects for women.
However, several resignations from female members of Morrison's government led many to question his commitment to jobs for women within his ruling Liberal Party.
Independent parliamentarian Julia Banks told a crowd at an event that Morrison's leadership style was akin to "Mad Men crossed with House of Cards". She quit Morrison's Liberal Party last November, citing a "culture of gender bias, bullying and intimidation".
Former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will leave Parliament altogether at the next election, which is due before the end of May.
The Prime Minister also addressed on Friday his party's efforts to remedy its "bad-for-women" reputation, saying: "I have been doing a bit of advancement of women lately myself. There are now seven women in my Cabinet, which is the highest number of women ever in a Cabinet in Australia's history."
Morrison's online detractors pointed out that just 22 per cent of sitting Liberal Party members across Australia's two houses of Parliament were women.