Patricia Karvelas: Bare arm reporter wins government apology

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Patricia Karvelas: Bare arm reporter wins government apology

Image copyright @PatsKarvelas
Image caption Patricia Karvelas tweeted this image of the outfit she was wearing

A female journalist who was thrown out of Australia's parliament for allegedly breaching the dress code has received an apology from the government.

Patricia Karvelas, a presenter for ABC News, said she was asked to leave a parliamentary session on Monday because she was showing "too much skin".

It prompted a social media backlash, with many people pointing to MPs who have worn similar outfits in the past.

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne expressed regret over the incident.

"I would like to apologise on behalf of this side of the House to Ms Karvelas for being ejected yesterday from the press gallery," he said in parliament on Tuesday.

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Speaker Tony Smith said the journalist was wearing "professional business attire" and explained that he had ordered a review of the parliamentary dress code following the incident.

"She should, in hindsight, not have been asked to leave," he added.

Ms Karvelas praised the "sensible outcome" on Twitter. "Pleased that female journalists will be free to wear professional clothing that reflects what politicians wear," she wrote.

Skip Twitter post by @PatsKarvelas

This is my controversial outfit #auspol pic.twitter.com/8Ve0ZTYEtl

— PatriciaKarvelas (@PatsKarvelas) December 3, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @PatsKarvelas

On Monday, she explained that a "polite" attendant came up to her during a question time session with politicians and said her clothes showed "too much shoulder" and that she "needed to cover up more".

Ms Karvelas contested the request, believing her outfit to be in keeping with parliamentary standards.

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According to the Parliament of Australia website, standard of dress is a matter of "individual judgement", although the ultimate verdict on what is acceptable rests with the speaker.

Such standards, it says, "should involve good trousers, a jacket, collar and tie for men and a similar standard of formality for women".

This guidance is the same for both politicians and journalists, which led some people to highlight inconsistencies with how the dress code is enforced.

Political reporter Airlie Walsh tweeted an image of MP Julie Bishop, who often wears short-sleeved or sleeveless dresses in parliament.

Skip Twitter post by @AirlieWalsh

Julie Bishop last Monday. @PatsKarvelas this Monday. pic.twitter.com/HSJlyAzbAR

— Airlie Walsh (@AirlieWalsh) December 3, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @AirlieWalsh

Others said the decision to ask Ms Karvelas to leave was "degrading" and "insulting" and some women expressed solidarity by tweeting pictures of themselves with bare arms.

On Twitter, MP Adam Bandt said he had tried to change the "ridiculous" rule last year and hoped a future attempt would now be successful.

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