Julia Gillard, Australia's prime minister, has verbally attacked the country's opposition leader, labelling him as a hypocrite and a misogynist during a tirade in parliament that has garnered international media attention.

During a heated day in parliament on Tuesday, Gillard unleashed on Tony Abbott's character after he called for the dismissal of Peter Slipper, the speaker of parliament, for lurid text messages he sent to a former member of staff.

Abbott said that the speaker possessed "attitudes and values which are absolutely and utterly indefensible".

In a fiery response, Gillard accused Abbott of possessing double standards when it came to sexism.

Gillard's tirade against Abbott [ABC/YouTube]

"I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man.    I will not," she said.

"And the government will not be lectured on sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever.

"If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia he doesn't need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror, that's what he needs."

She then recounted previous alleged quotes by Abbott, which she said had repeatedly offended her personally.

Gillard said: "I was offended when the leader of the opposition went outside in the front of Parliament and stood in front of a sign that said 'ditch the witch'.

"I was offended when the leader of the opposition stood next to a sign that described me as a 'man's bitch'.

"I was offended by those things! Misogyny, sexism, every day from this leader of the opposition," she said.

Viral tirade

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported that its video of the speech had attracted more than 300,000 views on the ABC News website and youtube.

Overnight, 'Gillard' was one of the world's top trending words on Twitter, and her Question Time tirade has made headlines in the US, Britain, India, South Africa and Canada.

Slipper resigned on Tuesday, weakening the government's tenuous grip on power.

Gillard's centre-left Labor Party government recruited Slipper from opposition ranks to the speaker's post last November in a move that effectively gave her administration a two-seat majority on most votes in the House of Representatives.

Her minority government is trailing the conservative opposition in opinion polls and could be forced to hold early elections if it loses a no-confidence motion in the 150-seat chamber.

Source: Agencies