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‘Deeply offensive’: Liberal MP hits back after being accused of shouting ‘close your legs’ during heated debate

Written by on May 22, 2024

A furious row has erupted after a minister wrongly accused an opposition MP of telling her to “close her legs” during a debate about a maternity ward.

Ros Bates, Queensland’s shadow health and women’s minister, made a comment during Question Time in the state’s parliament on Wednesday while Labor health minister Shannon Fentiman was speaking.

The comment came as Ms Fentiman was being questioned over issues at Beaudesert Hospital maternity unit, which has seen pregnant patients sent to a different hospital nearly 50km away.

Ms Fentiman immediately took to X to share footage of the heckle, accusing Ms Bates of shouting “close your legs”, with the video sparking outrage online.

“This is what the LNP Shadow Minister for Health and Women Ros Bates yelled while I was on my feet talking about women’s health and maternity services in Parliament today,” she said.

Parliamentary records showed Ms Bates had said “cross your legs”, with the politician herself then took to social media to clarify.

“With Labor suggesting women could just bypass their local hospital to go to another hospital to give birth, I could not believe Labor was telling mothers to ‘cross your legs’ while in labour,” Ms Bates wrote.

“This is the comment I made.

“We have had women give birth on the side of the road in Queensland due to maternity services being closed in regional areas and this is what we are demanding the health minister answer for today.

“The comment was clearly not about the health minister, it was about the alarming Queensland maternity crisis, which continues to worsen on her watch and is putting women and children at risk.”

MP's comment sparks outrage in Parliament

Moments before the heckle, Liberal MP Jon Krause had asked: “Why didn’t the minister tell the mums of Beaudesert about the bypass happening on her watch?”

Ms Fentiman began to explain that the closures happened due to staff absences, particularly over the Christmas holiday period.

Ms Bates, questioning what Ms Fentiman told pregnant women at the time, shouted “cross your legs?”

Ms Bates has now demanded an apology and accused Labor of misrepresenting her comments, something she called “deeply offensive”.

“Shannon Fentiman is aware I am a victim of domestic violence,” Ms Bates said.

“She is also aware I am a mother. For her to mischaracterise my words for her own political gain and attempt to portray me as a misogynist is deeply offensive.”

Speaker Curtis Pitt warned Ms Bates after the comment was made and requested she withdraw her interjection.

Meanwhile, Queensland Premier Steven Miles slammed Ms Bates’ comments as “disgraceful”.

“This is disgraceful behaviour by the LNP’s Ros Bates. No woman should be treated like this in a workplace, or anywhere for that matter,” he said on X.

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“This is the kind of behaviour David Crisafulli accepts from his spokesperson for Women and Health. If the LNP were to be elected she would be their most senior woman.

“Ros Bates has form. The LNP’s spokesperson for Health called regional health workers ‘duds’.

“And she was a minister in Campbell Newman’s government before being sacked for nepotism.”