Oddly Enough

Outback mayor seeks "ugly duckling" women

A couple stands at the embankment of the Volga River in Samara, about 1000 km (620 miles) southeast of Moscow May 18, 2007. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

CANBERRA (Reuters) - A plea for lovelorn female “ugly ducklings” to move to a remote Australian mining town to reverse a shortage of eligible women has landed the local mayor in hot water.

Mt Isa Mayor John Molony was refusing to apologize on Monday for angering local women with a suggestion that “with five blokes to every girl, may I suggest that beauty-disadvantaged women should proceed to Mount Isa,” in north-west Queensland state.

“Quite often you will see walking down the street a lass who is not so attractive with a wide smile on her face. Whether it is recollection of something previous or anticipation for the next evening, there is a degree of happiness,” Molony told the Townsville Bulletin newspaper last week.

“Some, in other places in Australia, need to proceed to Mount Isa where happiness awaits. Really, beauty is only skin deep. Isn’t there a fairy tale about an ugly duckling that evolves into a beautiful swan,” Molony said.

The mayor said he was “telling it like it is” in a testosterone-laden town more famous for cowboys and mining lead, silver, copper and zinc than for match-making, sitting atop one of the world’s biggest underground mines.

“I’m a bloke who respects women. I believe we should look after women. I’m told men outnumber women here by five to one. If that’s the case, then perhaps it’s an opportunity for some lonely women,” Molony said.

Fellow council members and the local chamber of commerce said they had been swamped with phone calls from both women and men complaining about the mayor’s remarks.

“It paints the women here as second rate and suggests the men will settle for anything. I think it’s quite disgusting,” Mt Isa domestic violence worker Shirley Slann told the Courier Mail newspaper on Monday.

Reporting by Rob Taylor, editing by Sanjeev Miglani