Australia

Lib MP's Vic parliament 'pig' jab to Green

Samantha Ratnam had been giving a statement on increasing gender and diversity in parliaments. (AAP)

Liberal MP Inga Peulich has called Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam a "pig" during a fiery upper house exchange on increasing diversity in parliaments.

A speech on diversity in politics in Victoria's upper house has exploded into Liberal MP Inga Peulich calling Greens leader Samantha Ratnam a "pig".

Ms Ratnam had given a member's statement on increasing gender and cultural diversity in parliaments and pointed to comments by federal Liberal Senator Jane Hume about women who miss out on work opportunities needing to "work harder".

Her speech sparked a fiery debate, which Ms Ratnam interrupted with a point of order.

"Did you say 'you're a pig' to me? I think I just heard her say that," she said in the chamber, supported by other MPs.

Ms Peulich was not on her feet at the time of the comment and she could not be heard by the microphones, but she told President Bruce Atkinson "if whatever it was that I uttered was offensive to anyone, I apologise."

Mr Atkinson told Ms Peulich such a comment was "totally unparliamentary, it is unnecessary" and "certainly doesn't meet the level of respect that I would expect all members adhere to."

Ms Ratnam told reporters the exchange was "the lowest form of attack."

"They can't defend the fact they have some of the lowest representation of women across parliaments in Australia, I'm so proud to lead a team of eight MPs, seven of which are women," she said outside parliament.

Ms Peulich said Ms Ratnam should have been attacking the Andrews government's "poor record", rather than Ms Hume.

"Ms Ratnam, who professes to be an advocate for more women in politics, used this as a cheap opportunity to launch a nasty and personal attack on Senator Jane Hume and all female Liberal MPs," Ms Peulich said in a statement.

"I was incensed at this blatant display of hypocrisy by Ms Ratnam and the Greens but did withdraw an intemperate remark I made and hope Ms Ratnam will also apologise for her offensive and misogynist comments."

In her member's statement, sent to AAP, Ms Ratnam said "it is clear that members of the Liberal Party have little if any understanding of the privilege and advantage that helped install them and their friends into their powerful positions."

Ms Ratnam's family fled from war in Sri Lanka in the 1980s.

When asked outside parliament about the matter, Premier Daniel Andrews said: "I have no comment to make about Ms Peulich and if you can't say something good about someone, you should perhaps say nothing."

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