CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard enjoys joking with President Barack Obama that she faces more prejudices as a childless, unmarried, atheist woman than he does as an African-American, a newspaper and a government colleague said Monday.
Gillard revealed the inside joke in a speech at a private fundraising dinner in Sydney last week, The Sydney Morning Herald reported, citing unnamed guests.
“I’m good mates with Barack Obama,” Gillard was quoted as saying at the 40-table dinner attended by most of her ministers, business leaders and representatives of interest groups.
“I tell him, ‘You think it’s tough being African-American? Try being me. Try being an atheist, childless, single woman as prime minister.’”
She often makes the joke with Obama when they meet and discuss the prejudices they experience, the newspaper said.
One of the dinner guests, government minister Chris Evans, confirmed that the comments were made “in jest.”
“A little light humor … was used to compare her challenges with those of President Obama,” Evans said.
Gillard’s office said it would not confirm comments made in a private speech.
Gillard, 50, is Australia’s first woman prime minister, the first prime minister to take an affirmation of office instead of swearing on a Bible and the first to share the official residence with a common-law partner.
Her opponents have accused her failing to understand the concerns of families because of her decision not to have children. She has also been criticized for failing to marry her partner, former hair dresser Tim Mathieson.
Protesters demonstrating against her government have been accused of sexism in their chants, including “Ditch the Witch.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press