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‘Premier’s new clothes’ cartoon riles Jacinta Allan

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan has hit out at a "sexualised" cartoon published by a newspaper.

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan has hit out at a "sexualised" cartoon published by a newspaper. Photo: Twitter

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan has hit out at a “sexualised” cartoon published by a major Melbourne newspaper to make a political analogy.

The Herald Sun ran a cartoon depicting Allan on the runway for Melbourne Fashion Week wearing no clothes, with blurred-out areas across her chest and hips on Tuesday.

“From the Commonwealth Games cancellation collection … the Premier’s new clothes,” its caption reads.

Allan said she didn’t recall any male politicians being depicted in such a manner.

“It’s 2023,” she said.

“It’s pretty reasonable to expect that the Herald Sun in-house cartoonist should be able to draw women without using sexualised imagery.

“They’ve done that. It’s a matter for them.”

The cartoon by Mark Knight is based on the Emperor’s New Clothes, a Hans Christian Andersen folktale often used to point out an obvious truth.

As the former minister tasked with delivering the 2026 Commonwealth Games, Allan has faced scrutiny over the lead-up to Victoria’s decision to cancel the sports event.

Knight insisted he didn’t draw the cartoon for the sake of depicting a naked Premier but rather to reference the folktale and evidence led at the Games inquiry on Monday.

“It’s not sexualised imagery,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.

“I felt that some of the information that was coming out left the Premier a little bit exposed and my cartoonist brains clicked into gear and it was fashion week and, I thought, ‘well, this is not a bad idea’.”

The Walkley Award-winning cartoonist pointed to his past work drawing former prime minister Tony Abbott in budgie smugglers as proof of him practising equal opportunity mockery.

Knight courted global controversy in 2018 for his depiction of tennis legend Serena Williams throwing a tantrum during that year’s US Open final.

“There’s nothing worse than a boring cartoonist … but I don’t seek to deliberately outrage,” he said.

Allan became Victoria’s first female premier in more than three decades last month, replacing Daniel Andrews.

In his almost nine years in the top job, former Victorian Labor premier Steve Bracks said he was never subjected to the “awful, sexualised treatment” Allan had faced in less than a month.

“We need to do better,” he said.

Victoria’s inaugural Public Sector Gender Equality Commissioner Niki Vincent said she found the cartoon tiresome and suggested it used sexism.

“Often we see women leaders with their bodies focused on, their clothing focused on,” Vincent told ABC Radio Melbourne.

“So this is another example of how to make fun of a woman leader using their body.”

Deputy Premier Ben Carroll said he hadn’t seen the cartoon but recalled Australia’s first female prime minister Julia Gillard’s speech after she was deposed in 2013, declaring she was confident it would be easier for the next woman.

“In 2023, to be going through that sexualised imagery, that misogynistic-type betrayal is just not on.”

– AAP

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