Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says there is “no place” for sexism, racism or homophobia in the country following Liberal leader Tony Abbott’s outspoken remarks.

Appearing yesterday on Sydney radio station 2SM, Mr Abbott was questioned about his position on same-sex marriage. He said that he supported the traditional definition of marriage, adding: “I respect the views of people who disagree with me but I respectfully disagree with them.”

The Liberal Party leader added: “My idea is to build on the strength of our society and I support, by and large, evolutionary change. I’m not someone who wants to see radical change based on the fashion of the moment.”

Prior to the interview Mr Abbott had described a young female Liberal candidate and her predecessor as having sex appeal.

“They’re young, they’re feisty, I think I can probably say have a bit of sex appeal, and they’re just very, very connected with the local area,” Mr Abbott said.

In response, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said: “My policy’s pretty simple, that in modern Australia, neither sexism nor racism nor homophobia has any place whatsoever.”

He added: “I believe people look to our national leaders to set that sort of example.”

Mr Rudd warned that an employer who made similar remarks about a staff member having sex appeal would be in “serious strife”.

At the weekend, Mr Rudd pledged to allow a full conscience vote on equal marriage within 100 days – if he wins September’s election.

His challenger, Liberal Party leader Tony Abbot remains opposed to marriage equality.

Mr Rudd announced his support for equal marriage in May, having previously been against it.