Magda Szubanski has revealed she compared Scott Morrison and his wife to religious extremists in The Handmaid’s Tale because of a fear that Christianity is infiltrating politics.
The comedian made headlines on Sunday when she retweeted a photo of the prime minister’s wife Jenny wearing a modest black dress while watching her husband sign a condolence book for the late Prince Philip.
In the controversial tweet, she said the image looked like a scene from the dystopian thriller where women are uneducated, subservient to men and ruled by Bible-touting dictators.
‘I genuinely thought this was a photoshopped Handmaid’s Tale meme. But no. It’s 21st Century Aussie life,’ she wrote.
The left-wing comedian had retweeted a photo of Mrs Morrison watching her husband sign a condolence book for the late Prince Philip, captioning the image: ‘I genuinely thought this was a photoshopped Handmaid’s Tale meme. But no. It’s 21st century Aussie life’
On Wednesday night, the former Kath & Kim star doubled down on her comments and said they were a restrained way of drawing attention to the fact that she thinks elements of ‘far-right’ Christian conservatism is increasingly present in politics.
‘That was a mild way of drawing attention to the fact I do have concerns about, and trust me this is not about the majority of Christians, but the element of the far-right,’ she told A Current Affair.
‘And – they are really going to come for me now – I think that is a concern.
‘I think that is quite legitimate to say in this country. I don’t like extremes of any kind is my stance.’
Mr and Mrs Morrison are evangelical Christians and have made no apologies for their strong beliefs, with the Liberal leader having met his future wife at a Christian youth camp.
Doubling down on her decision to make the comments about the Morrison family, the actress added: ‘I am extremely restrained about what I say on Twitter, but there are some opinions that I will voice.
‘In terms of the increasing presence of the religious right in politics in this country, then I will say something.’
Szubanski also asked presenter Tracy Grimshaw: ‘why you would put something that looks like the Handmaid’s Tale out as a photo op?’
Magda Szubanski defended the tweet when she addressed the saga on A Current Affair on Wednesday night
Magda Szubanski says she didn’t recognise Jenny Morrison (left) in this photo of her watching her husband Prime Minister Scott Morrison sign a condolence book for the late Prince Philip – which she then compared to a scene from the Handmaid’s Tale (right)
She also said she did not instantly recognise the woman in the photo as Mrs Morrison because she wasn’t wearing her ‘normal hair and make-up’.
Margaret Atwood’s 1985 classic is set in a totalitarian state called Gilead where single women are kept as sexual slaves for reproduction purposes, while married women are only taught how to sew and bow to the whim of their powerful husbands.
It has since been made into a wildly-successful TV series.
Women in the book and show are also covered from head to toe in long, plain-coloured dresses and watch their husbands carry out official duties.
Referring again to her decision to speak about the Morrisons, the actress said she was ‘not there to just make nice comments all the time’ and that certain things ‘needed to be addressed’.
‘I am 60 Tracy, at what point do you start to just say you know things that you think are important?’ she asked.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (L), Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison (C), his wife Jenny Morrison (2nd L), Governor-General David Hurley (R) and his wife Linda Hurley (2nd R) attend a special prayer service to commemorate the death of Prince Philip
Scott and Jenny Morrison (pictured with their children Lily and Abbey). The family are evangelical Christians and the couple met at a church camp in their youth
In a follow-up tweet on Tuesday, Szubanski said ‘the infiltration of the religious far-right into Australian politics is disturbing’.
She also drew bizarre comparisons between ‘Christian soldiers’ and those criticising her own comments.
‘I see what the “Christian Soldiers” are doing here. They have drawn a “pink line” and I’m the Big Game,’ she wrote in reference to the scandal around the tweet.
She made another strange comment about a hand signal Mrs Morrison made on her daughter’s arm in a photograph with Prince Harry and Megan Markle.
In the image, Mrs Morrison’s thumb and forefinger are touching, forming a circle on the little girl’s arm.
Actor, comedian and gay marriage advocate Magda Szubanski poses with an LGBTQI flag. She has seen blamed her comments about Jenny Morrison on fearing the rise of the ‘religious right’
Pictured: Scott Morrison and his family with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Szubanski asked ‘what’s with the hand signal thingy?’ referring to Mrs Morrison’s hand on her daughter’s wrist
‘What’s with the hand signal thingy?’ Szubanski wrote.
When asked about the comment on A Current Affair, she admitted it was ‘probably a silly tweet to put out’ but said it was used to distract the public from other issues.
‘The fact that it turned into a big issue is no doubt in my mind partly to distract from the fact that Christine Holgate was making her testimony,’ she said.
Ms Holgate, the former CEO of Australia Post, accused Mr Morrison of humiliating her in a scorching senate enquiry on Wednesday, after the prime minister slammed her for buying luxury watches for staff.
Szubanski told the program she was shocked at the backlash the tweet has sparked but insists she was doing ‘okay’ after celebrating her 60th birthday on Monday.
Magda Szubanski (pictured) poses with the LGBTI Celebrity Award in 2018. She has a history of outspoken left-wing views
‘I’m becoming Twitter toughened and if you speak up, this is what’s going to happen,’ Szubanski said.
‘What stunned me was this was such a non-event, and non-comment – it was a comment about a photo that I genuinely thought was a meme.
‘I was a bit staggered that I got drawn into this over such a nothing observation that thousands of people had already made on Twitter, made that comment.
‘I think it’s sort of a fact of 21st century life if you are at all a public person, you do get better at it, but it seems excessive as to what the actual tweet was. It certainly wasn’t at a tirade as it has been called.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and wife Jenny wait to sign a condolence book at Admiralty House following the death of Prince Philip
Scott Morrison with his daughters Lily and Abbey. Szubanski has asked why Mr Morrison asks his wife Jenny for political advice
Earlier on Wednesday, Szubanski fired off a series of angry tweets amid growing backlash and argued Mrs Morrison was ‘fair game’ for criticism because she had ‘opted in’ to public life by offering her husband policy advice.
Responding to criticism from Liberal MP Nicolle Flint – one of several conservative female politicians who took issue with her Handmaid’s Tale tweet – Szubanski wrote: ‘1) seriously, my comment is ‘appalling’ says Flint. ‘Appalling’?!
‘2) I never said a single word about Jenny. 3) why is this headline news when… Christine Holgate is testifying?! Blatant attempt to use ‘sisterhood’ to distract. Now THAT’S appalling.’
She also insisted that she hadn’t meant to make a personal attack on Mrs Morrison’s appearance, but instead wanted a greater degree of accountability – particularly given her husband’s revelations that he turns to her for work advice.