Cory Bernardi has accused Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young of “playing the race, age and gender card” in a war of words over a taxpayer-funded trip.
Senator Hanson-Young on Tuesday hit out at criticism of her for taking her daughter on a work whale-watching trip, saying she wasn’t going to be lectured by old “white men.”
Senator Bernardi had accused her of being “out of touch” for spending nearly $4000 for the outing in the Great Australian Bight last year which she said was for meetings with local communities.
"There have been some grumpy old white men deciding what is best for my family in the last 24 hours, and I tell you what, I am not going to be lectured to by some grumpy old men about how to be a mother or indeed what is best for my family," Senator Hanson-Young told Sky News on Tuesday.
Senator Bernardi, who left the coalition to form the Australian Conservatives party last year, later returned serve on Twitter.
"Note to self: if caught out play the race, age, gender and 'woe is me' card like @sarahinthesen8 #auspol #Pathetic."
Senator Hanson-Young accused Senator Bernadi of wasting taxpayers' money.
"Let's not forget Senator Bernardi spent $76,000 of taxpayer money last year swanning around the US following Trump like a sick puppy," she told Sky News, citing his secondment to the United Nations.
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"Rather than muckraking how about all South Australian senators get on with protecting our environment, our tourism and our fishing industries?"
She insists her daughter was sick last September and as a single mother she didn't have anyone at home to take care of her.
"I don't regret it," she said, adding that it was an official work trip within the rules.
Senator Hanson-Young conceded she is in a privileged position and does have help, but says every parent struggles to get the balance right between work and family.
There can't be a family-friendly parliament and no provision for family travel, she said.
"You can't have it both ways."