Perth’s Mayor Basil Zempilas Denies He Shit Talked Women’s Sport While On A Hot Mic

The Lord Mayor of Perth Basil Zempilas has denied that he made a controversial remark about women’s sport before a press conference. He has argued that his offhand commends have been taken out of context.

Zempilas held a press conference on Saturday morning to announce that he would be joining the Liberal Party and nominating himself for preselection for the state electorate of Churchlands.

But before he had the opportunity to make the announcement, he was heard on microphone having a conversation with another journalist about the sport and news on that evening.

Their dialogue went viral in a clip that was shared online.

“Tennis is on tonight?” Zempilas asked.

“Uh, yeah. The female final,” responded a journalist.

What was said next has been disputed as taken out of context by Zempilas, but in the below clip it sounds like his response was:

“It’s a reserves game then.”

Here’s a full clip of the moment:

After receiving backlash online, Zempilas made a statement on X (formerly Twitter) to say that the comment was being reported “totally incorrectly”.

According to Zempilas, what sounded as though he was referring to women’s tennis being “a reserves game” was actually him talking about how reading the news while the tennis is on as being like a reserves game.

“It is totally disingenuous and flat out wrong to suggest otherwise and I will not be accused of having said something I did not say,” wrote the preselection hopeful.

However, not everyone online was convinced by his story.

Leonardo Puglisi of 6 News tried looking for clarity on the now-disputed soundbite.

“Hang on – you say you said “it’s like the reserves then” but the video clearly shows you saying “it’s a reserves *game* then”?” asked the young journalist. Implying that by saying “game” that the Mayor was in fact talking about sport.

Senator Katy Gallagher took a moment to show her disapproval of how the comment sounded, saying she’d love to see the Lord Mayor “play the reserve women finalists.”

“Attitudes matter and women are sick of this rubbish,” wrote Gallagher — prior to when Zempilas had made his statement.

Zempilas provided his own cut of the footage that showed more of his conversation with Michael Genovese.

Some have gone online to say that the comment could still be interpreted as sharing negative sentiment towards women’s sport, given how the news being shown at the same time as the women’s final is only a “reserves game” still implies that men’s tennis is superior, as the news stands a chance against the women’s match.

But again, as Zempilas has stated, he was referring to the news, “not the tennis.”