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An Australian-British feminist author has taken a nasty swipe at outgoing First Lady Jenny Morrison by criticising the dress she chose to wear on election night.
Kathy Lette, who gained fame after co-authoring classic Australian novel Puberty Blues, said in a now-deleted tweet on Saturday night that Ms Morrison’s outfit reminded her of a villain from The Handmaid’s Tale.
The Margaret Atwood book, made into a popular TV programme, is set in a dystopian world in which single women are forced into subjugation to make babies for wealthy couples in an America overtaken by religious extremists.
‘One for my Aussie pals. After a long awaited #Labor victory, I think we can allow ourselves little moment of light gloating!’ she wrote.
Australian-British author Kathy Lette is perhaps most well-known for her classic novel Puberty Blues (pictured in 2019)
Ms Morrison wore a teal coloured Carla Zampatti dress on election night (pictured with Scott Morrison)
She then posted a side-by-side comparison of Ms Morrison’s teal coloured Carla Zampatti dress featuring flowing sleeves, next to a similar dress worn by the show’s character Serena Joy – a devout Christian on the show.
She also captioned the image ‘Gilead defeated’, referencing the fictional militarised nation in which the show is set.
Entertainment writer Peter Ford said the comment was ‘the ultimate mean girls act’.
‘Fair crack of the whip, it was a lovely dress and Aussie designer… She’s a nice lady who has never craved the spotlight… give her a break’ he wrote.
Other readers also slammed the comment describing it as ‘bullying’ and ‘poor form’.
‘That is on really poor taste. I’m no fan of Scott Morrison but leave the partner and kids of politicians out of commentary. They may be in view but doesn’t mean they are up for criticism,’ one person said.
‘Pretty low picking on someone’s spouse because you don’t like their partners politics. Glad that you are such a human rights champion,’ Aboriginal leader and former Labor Party President Warren Mundine AO wrote.
Kathy Lette is a strong Labor supporter in Britain and was pleased with the Australian election result (pictured)
Ms Morrison has previously been insulted with a reference to The Handmaid’s Tale by Australian actor and comedian Magda Szubanksi.
In a 2021 picture the former First Lady appeared in the background wearing a solemn black dress as Mr Morrison signed a condolence book for Prince Phillip.
Ms Szubanski tweeted she ‘genuinely’ had the assumption the picture was a meme referencing the show rather than ’21st century Aussie life’.
In a later interview with 60 Minutes, Ms Morrison said the Kath and Kim actor had gone ‘too far’ with the comment.
‘I can take a joke. I’ve had to be independent and strong because of the life that I live with Scott. But sometimes, it’s just like, really?’ Ms Morrison said.
Interviewer Karl Stafanovic put it to her that some people had the view it was ‘part of the job’ she’d signed up for.
‘It’s part of my job. It’s never part of the family’s job.’ Mr Morrison said.
Ms Szubanski later double down on her comments saying it was a ‘mild’ way to voice her concerns about a ‘conservative element of the far-right’ becoming increasingly present in Australian politics.
Ms Morrison on election night was likely making a far more positive statement of her own with her choice of dress.
Australian billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes seemed chuffed Ms Morrison appeared to be supporting Teal candidates with her dress choice (pictured)
Many said the colour was a nod to the so-called ‘teal independents’, who were successfully voted into a number of long-held Liberal seats such as Wentworth and Kooyong, where Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was ousted.
The candidates were mostly women who ran on platforms of equality, action on climate change, and establishing a federal anti-corruption watchdog to shake up a Liberal party perceived as neglecting these issues.
One of the most high-profile teal independents was new member for Wentworth Allegra Spender, who is the daughter and granddaughter of two well-known Liberal politicians.
Her mother is Carla Zampatti, who founded the fashion house which designed Ms Morrison’s dress.