News Corp photographer Kym Smith captured it perfectly – the moment Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash had her now infamous “brain snap” – threatening to expose young female staffers in Bill Shorten’s office.
Today, the photo of Ms Cash in full flight has been made into hilarious memes on Facebook and Twitter feeds around the country.
But behind all the fun at the besieged Minister’s expense, is the seriousness of what Ms Cash said in the Senate Estimates hearing yesterday.
Asked by Senator Doug Cameron about a new staff member joining her office, Ms Cash responded with an outrageous outburst, threatening to “name young women” in Bill Shorten’s office and repeat rumours about them.
“If you want to start discussing staff members be very, very careful,” Ms Cash said to Mr Cameron.
“Because I’m happy to sit here and name every young woman in Mr Shorten’s office of which rumours in this place abound.
“You want to go down that path today, I will do it.
“You want to start naming them? You want to start naming them for Mr Shorten to come out [and] deny any of the rumours that are circulating in this building now for many, many years?
“It’s a dangerous path to go down.”
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at employee advocacy firm Discrimination Claims, says it was inexcusable coming from someone in the government who is supposed to be representing workers.
“When Michaelia was painted into a corner, good old fashioned sexism came out,” he said.
“She attacked young female workers, she didn’t mention any males who may have been rooting around in the office, or implied it.
“Her only target was to pin the women because it’s easy to make a woman out to be a slut.”
Even Tony Abbott was critical, saying the Minister must have had “a brain snap.”
“I don’t know what was going through her head at the time,” he said.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull blamed Senator Cameron, claiming he bullied Ms Cash into responding the way she did.
Bill Shorten said he was shocked and angry on behalf of “the dedicated, hard working professionals in my office who have been smeared by Michaelia Cash.”
Although Ms Cash said that she “unreservedly” withdrew the remarks, there are growing calls for her to make a proper apology to Mr Shorten’s staff.
Ruth Gardner, 4ZZZ broadcaster and analyst at Discrimination Claims, thought the Minister’s comments were unfair.
“I think she was trying to deflect the issue by saying something very inflammatory about people who weren’t there to defend themselves,” she said.
“I thought it was sexist in nature, and not excusable.”
As for the women in Mr Shorten’s office, well they all went out to dinner last night, in a show of solidarity.
And as for Kym Smith’s now famous photo, well, we might just see it nominated for a Walkley Award later in the year.
If you believe you are a victim of sexism at work, or have been discriminated against because of your gender, please call Discrimination Claims on 1300 853 837 for professional and confidential advice about your options.