Clive Palmer has apologised to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s chief-of-staff for personally attacking her over the government’s paid parental leave scheme.
The Palmer United Party leader used parliamentary debate on Monday to suggest Peta Credlin would receive a “massive benefit when she gets pregnant” on the scheme, and suggested she was somehow responsible for it.
Mr Palmer said he was unaware Ms Credlin had unsuccessful attempts to conceive through IVF and wrote a letter of apology on Tuesday morning.
“I did that well before this was a big controversy,” he said.
Mr Palmer however didn’t back down entirely and again criticised the policy for favouring successful women, who are capable of looking after themselves, over battling stay-at-home mums.
Earlier, Mr Abbott said Mr Palmer did not understand that his parental leave policy would give all women entitlements enjoyed by commonwealth public servants, including his chief-of-staff.
“So before he goes out and attacks people he really ought to understand the policy, and he doesn’t,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Canberra.
“I think that blokes around this place have learnt to underestimate women at their peril. I just make that general observation.”
Amid the furore sparked by his comments, Mr Palmer skipped federal parliament on Wednesday and instead visited Queensland parliament.
He said his time was better spent meeting his Queensland parliamentary leader Alex Douglas and Fairfax constituents.
“I’m not allowed to talk in federal parliament, I can only ask a question once every two weeks.”