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News News The annual Ernie Awards for sexism once again had far too many nominations

There was no shortage of nominations in the "industrial" category of the Ernie Awards for sexism at NSW parliament house on Thursday night with winners being determined in a noisy boo-off by the (female) guests.

This year, the 18th Ernies, the David Jones sexual harassment case has dominated, producing five nominations - though three are actually "Elaines", for comments by women least helpful to the sisterhood.

Former chief executive Mark McInnes is, unsurprisingly, on the list, for allegedly saying "you are over-reacting, it's just what I'm like" when asked to stop. Also nominated are defence counsel Barry Toomey QC ("Kristy Fraser-Kirk was touched on the bra-strap, the sheer horror or it, the awful inhumanity of it") and conservative columnist Miranda Devine ("nobody died" and "some of the world's most charming people are men who love women too much. They might not make the greatest husbands, but many women enjoy their attention, so we shouldn't be out to stigmatise energetic heterosexuality").

Also nominated was Gerry Harvey who, on quotas and boards, said: "If you push three good men aside to put a woman there you create a lot of problems. You undermine the culture of the company, and it can get quite difficult"; and mining magnate Clive Palmer for telling heavily pregnant minister Tanya Plibersek "you shouldn't get too excited in your condition" on the ABC's Q&A program on Monday night.

An employer, Wongtaf, is also nominated for telling a clerical assistant it went on to sack, on learning she was pregnant, that she had caused "a lot of inconvenience, and she must bear the consequences".

There were a number of nominations in the political category:

Anglican Christian lobby CEO Jim Wallace was nominated for his comments regarding Prime Minister Julia Gillard's living arrangements, when he said they would be a factor in the way many Christians voted.

Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce got a nod for his comments after being dumped from the finance portfolio, when he said: "You lose one girlfriend, you find another one".

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott also came in for criticism, leading the field with eight nominations.

But the Gold Ernie, awarded to the night's overall winner, went to students from St Paul's College at the University of Sydney. The students set up a Facebook page that encouraged rape against women.

"Always something to do with rape and consent and sexual assault wins, because that is what women just feel angriest about," Awards founder Meredith Burgmann said.

Ms Burgmann said the event aimed to highlight gender imbalances between men and women.
"Every year I think no-one's going to say anything terrible, there won't be any nominations, and yet every year we have 100, 200 nominations for terrible things that men have said in the past 12 months, so it doesn't look like it's going to stop any time soon," she said.

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