This week Australian Agricultural Co CEO David Farley compared Prime Minister Julia Gillard to ‘an old cow’. This while explaining plans to build an abattoir near Darwin that – wait for it – specialises in slaughtering old cows.

‘This plant is designed to process old cows,’ Mr Farley said in a speech at a conference on Thursday. ‘So the old cows that become non-productive, instead of making a decision to either let her die in the paddock or put her in the truck … this gives us a chance to take non-productive animals off and put them through the processing system … So it’s designed for non-productive old cows – Julia Gillard’s got to watch out.’

Adelaide’s InDaily reported his remarks, which were apparently met with laughter by the crowd.

Yesterday Mr Farley told SMH that his comments were tongue in cheek and taken out of context.

Taken out of context, or just taken out of the conference? To recap: ‘So it’s designed [to slaughter] non-productive old cows – Julia Gillard’s got to watch out.’

That is some context, Mr Farley.

I’d go into all the levels of wrongness here, but I hope I don’t have to. Any right thinking person, regardless of their political views, can see that an apology from Mr Farley is in order. Calling any woman – PM or otherwise – an old cow fit for slaughter is unacceptable, especially coming from the CEO of Australia’s largest beef cattle company. This on top of Sydney radio host Alan Jones’s recent declaration that our PM should be put in a ‘chaff bag’ and thrown out to sea.

Abuse of this kind – whether against Howard, Rudd, Gillard or Abbott – sullies political debate. When said by a major business leader in a speech, an apology is appropriate.

Honestly, it’s time to call this sort of abuse what it is – misogynist, disrespectful and unacceptable.