The Mayor of Katherine has accused Health Minister Greg Hunt of misogyny, after he apologised for swearing at her during a meeting six months ago.
Mr Hunt apologised this morning for using “strong language” during a meeting last year with Fay Miller, admitting it should not have taken him so long to say sorry.
Ms Miller said Mr Hunt swore and pointed his finger in her face when she was meeting with him to lobby for better resources to deal with contamination from fire-fighting foam in her region.
She called it the most unprofessional interaction she had ever had with a person at his level.
Ms Miller said she had suggested more funding may be needed to get counsellors on the ground in Katherine, rather than over the phone, but Mr Hunt told her she would need to take that up with Northern Territory senator Nigel Scullion.
She said at that point, she told the Minister “Senator Scullion comes to Katherine but I don’t see him”.
“He relocated his chair, pointing towards me and said ‘you need to f***ing get over it, you need to f***ing make Senator Scullion your best friend’,” Ms Miller said.
“I didn’t move. I was absolutely totally gobsmacked.”
Ms Miller told ABC radio the next two sentences also contained the F-word.
“And then he sat back a little in his chair and said, ‘I’ve heard you’re feisty’,” she said.
“And I thought, ‘Really?’ I hadn’t said a word, not a word at this stage, because I was in such a state of shock at what he was saying.”
“It was like turning on a switch.”
Asked how she found Mr Hunt’s attitude during the meeting, Ms Miller replied: “That was misogynist.”
Ms Miller said she wrote to Mr Hunt twice asking him to explain his behaviour but only received an apology from him yesterday.
“I wrote to him in December and I actually got a letter in February that accused me of poor behaviour,” she said.
Ms Miller said she wrote back again on May 14, this time addressing the Prime Minister as well as Mr Hunt, and asking for an explanation and apology.
She said Mr Hunt did not personally apologise until yesterday.
Mr Hunt confirmed today he had said sorry to the Mayor and backed it with a public apology.
“I used strong language,” he said.
“I have apologised to the Mayor of Katherine and today I want to repeat that apology publicly and sincerely and absolutely.
“It was my fault and my responsibility and I accept that.”
When asked why he was only offering an apology now, he said he should have apologised earlier.
“My fault and my responsibility and I accept that responsibility and repeat that apology to the Mayor, sincerely and absolutely,” he said.