IN a political career where she rose to become NSW's top politician, Kristina Keneally wore barbs from the state's most foul-mouthed politicians as a badge of honour.
However a tongue-in-cheek column item in a national newspaper recycling a taunt comparing the former premier to reality TV star Kim Kardashian was enough to make her husband come out swinging.
Ben Keneally made an official complaint to the Australian Press Council after The Australian Financial Review's "Rear Window" column by Joe Aston referred to his wife as "reality TV premier Kristina 'Kim Kardashian' Keneally" in March. The jibe was originally made by now Premier Barry O'Farrell in parliament a month earlier when he said: "Government by Kim Kardashian is over."
According to Mr Keneally's complaint, comparing his wife to the reality star who found fame after making a sex tape caused "hurt and distress" to Ms Keneally because of Ms Kardashian's "negative reputation".
The APC disagreed and rejected Mr Keneally's complaint on Thursday. It wasn't the first time Mr O'Farrell's gag had appeared in the paper's column. But according to Mr Keneally's complaint, Mr Aston - who last worked as a Liberal Party staffer five years ago - went too far on the fourth occasion.
He said Mr Aston "had not merely reported Mr O'Farrell's comment, but had endorsed it". He also said the reference was not just hurtful to his wife but "deliberately offensive and hostile to women in politics".
Mr Aston told The Sunday Telegraph his column was "satirical" and pokes fun at politicians from all parties.
"Firstly, in the item where I referred to Ms Keneally as Kim Kardashian, I referred to Liberal Minister Brad Hazzard as a buffoon,' Mr Aston said. "I have also called John Howard 'a rodent' and Tony Abbott 'the Mad Monk'," he said. "Everyone gets a ribbing."
Mr Keneally said he was happy with the process taken by the APC but not with the result. He said Mr Aston had "crossed a line", despite the comment appearing in a satirical column.
In its ruling, published in the AFR on Friday, the APC said the comment "was not so offensive as to outweigh the very great importance in the public interest of allowing robust public discussion".
council also found that a reference to Kardashian "did not constitute a gratuitous reference to her gender or that of Ms Keneally".
However, the APC warned that politicians should not be regarded as "fair game" for "abuse in the media".
It said there should be importance placed on people being able "to enter public life without fear of severe and repeated denigration".