Sarah Hanson-Young is seeking legal advice after sexist commentary about her was broadcast on a Sky News segment with fellow senator David Leyonhjelm.
The Sky News political editor, David Speers, and many of his colleagues have condemned the airing of the remarks and the Outsiders program’s hosts, Ross Cameron and Rowan Dean.
Pressure is also increasing on advertisers to pull their support, while politicians, including Tony Abbott, have criticised Leyonhjelm for his comments.
Owned by News Corp, Sky has apologised for the comments and the on-screen strap, and suspended the producer pending an investigation, but has not taken action against the two hosts.
Leyonhjelm, a Liberal Democrats senator, made offensive comments about Hanson-Young’s personal life while defending what happened in the Senate last Friday – when he insulted Hanson-Young, saying she should “stop shagging men”.
In a statement on Monday morning, Hanson-Young said she was seeking legal advice in relation to the commentary between Leyonhjelm and the hosts, as well as on 3AW Weekend Breakfast on Sunday. She also called on Leyonhjelm to resign.
The comments Leyonhjelm made about her on these two shows, she said, were “reprehensible, hurtful and no woman, whether in public or the privacy of her home, deserves them”.
Sky’s advertisers, including Qantas, are being tagged on Twitter and asked to withdraw their advertising dollars from the channel in protest.
The Walkley award-winning Speers said the Outsiders hosts should have condemned the comments about the Greens senator at the time.
Angelos Frangopoulos, the chief executive and managing editor of Sky News’ operator, Australian News Channel, has yet to comment publicly on the scandal or discipline the Outsiders hosts.
Former prime minister Abbott said it was a tacky comment and Leyonhjelm should apologise.
“Leyonhjelm goes on Sky News on the weekend and in a very smug and self-righteous way repeats the damn thing,” Abbott told 2GB.
Speers was joined by presenters Ash Gillon, Kieran Gilbert, Laura Jayes and Chris Kenny in expressing their disapproval.
Kenny, the associate editor of the Australian, said in an editorial on his program that it “wasn’t a good look” to have those comments on the station and the two presenters reacted immediately to Leyonhjelm.
The federal education minister, Simon Birmingham, also called on Leyonhjelm to publicly apologise for his “appalling” comments.
“I would expect that apologies would be the appropriate order of the day,” Birmingham told Sky News on Monday. “Frankly, people ought to be a little bigger and better than that.”
But Leyonhjelm, who recently called Channel Ten’s entertainment reporter Angela Bishop “a bigoted bitch” for saying his slur was pathetic, is unrepentant.
A petition calling on Qantas to stop showing Sky News in its departure lounges and on its aircraft has already received over 4,000 signatures.
“Why is a public company that prides itself on inclusion and Australian values paying to spread this nonsense?” the petition says.
“Qantas passengers have no escape from it. The airline must immediately cease its commercial relationship with Sky News and choose either a news organisation with a belief in the tradition of fairness and balance, or just play cartoons or something instead.”
Qantas has been approached for comment.