Former First Lady and US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has said that Julia Gillard dealt with “outrageous sexism” during her time as Australian Prime Minister.
In her new book Hard Choices, Ms Clinton says that the level of discrimination Ms Gillard faced was at a level “which should not be tolerated in any country”.
Ms Clinton also writes about the “unfair double standard” that all women in office face.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is currently touring the US, says he hopes to meet Ms Clinton but will not support her comments.
Mr Abbott told reporters in New York – where he rang the bell to open the stock exchange and laid a wreath at the National September 11 Memorial – that he acknowledged Ms Gillard faced “all sorts of difficulties” in office.
“But every prime minister faces all sorts of difficulties in his or her time as prime minister,” he said.
Mr Abbott was the target of the now famous Gillard “misogyny” speech in federal parliament in October 2012.
He said he hoped to meet Ms Clinton while he was in the US.
“I think she was a highly creditable secretary of state, but beyond that I won’t comment.”
Meanwhile, the prime minister has extended the term of Australian ambassador to the US Kim Beazley by a year to take the former Labor leader’s diplomatic post up to the next presidential election.