Saturday, 23 March 2013

Australia's first female Prime Minister

Written 23rd March, 2013.

Australia’s first female Prime Minister

(note that I have not made a study of this, this is just the impression gained by a member of the public only informed by the media.)

Julia Gillard became Australia’s Prime Minister after Kevin Rudd lost popularity. I always thought his problem was a direct result of his attempting to introduce an extra tax on the profits from mining, which naturally, very much annoyed certain powerful people. So there was a meeting, Rudd was deposed,  and Julia Gillard took over as Prime Minister. There was a lot of talk about Julia stabbing him in the back, but I had been under the impression that this sort of nastiness was the usual form when leadership changed within a party – Bob Hawke did it to Whitlam, and then Paul Keating did it to Hawke. Quite the usual thing.
So Julia was now Prime Minister, and the mining tax was watered down so far that the mining magnates were apparently willing to allow it through.  That was some years ago. It has recently come to light that the amount of money made by this tax has so far been very low indeed, so the opponents of the law won while appearing to concede.  

So then there was an election and the Labor Party went to the polls with Julia as its leader. The vote was such that neither major party had the members to form government, and over the next several days, there was a lot of frantic talks with each party trying to get the support of enough of the independents and of the minor party, the Greens, to form a government.

Labor won – just, but Julia had to promise the Greens to bring in a Carbon Tax. (because of Global Warming and all that.)  This was a major broken promise – she had promised that there would never be a Carbon Tax under a government that she led.   

There was a second broken promise that was made much of in the media. One of the independents was determined that an absolutely mad law should be introduced to limit gambling – the ‘Pokie reforms.’ Julia promised him the law in exchange for his support. But the law was just so obviously stupid, and when it was dropped,  (or actually very heavily amended)  there was an outcry about another ‘broken promise.’ It never seemed to occur to anyone that politicians should not be doing this sort of a deal in the first place – and it was an incredibly stupid law. So Julia was branded ‘Liar’ though I really do not think that she has ever lied more than any other politician.

The Vitriol:

This image from Wikipedia

The vitriol directed at Julia Gillard has been far more than I have ever seen about any Prime Minister. Nasty jokes are spread about, especially on facebook. Has it every occurred to the people who spread these that they are acting as pawns for the Liberal/National Party  -  the Opposition?  Maybe it is they who make them up -  as witty as possible so that they spread. It has become fashionable to say how dreadful she is.  There was an interview with an Opposition leader that was carefully positioned in front of a placard that called her a ‘Bitch’ – she is far too often being called a bitch.  The poison seldom seems to do with her politics, and is very often, personal.

So just recently there has been another leadership challenge – one that failed, one that resulted in accusations of double-crossing and the resignations of several senior figures in the Party, and one that was completely unnecessary. Now they are talking about an early election.  The election had already been set for September this year, 2013. Surely the haters could wait just another six months. It appears certain that Labor will be overwhelmingly defeated.

And Yet:

Julia Gillard, in my opinion, has been a perfectly adequate Prime Minister. I don’t agree with her Carbon Pricing scheme, but the hatred she now appears to have generated does not appear to be anything to do with her political decisions.

Could it be that she is a woman? 

Could it be that certain people just cannot bear that we have a woman leader?  Within her own party, she has continually struck disloyalty.  One can be a magnificent potential leader,  but to lead, one needs others to follow. Julia Gillard never had the support she should have been entitled to.  It is a credit to her that she has maintained her dignity and composure in the face of such provocation. She will be remembered as a failure. I think it a tremendous shame. I do not know how much of that failure is because of the resentment men hold for a woman leader.  I think it could be a substantial factor.

When will Australia have another female leader? 

I  don’t know, but it will not be soon.

Further note made 12th June, 2013.

It has just come to light that in March, a Liberal fundraiser dinner used a menu that included nasty personal remarks about Julia Gillard - for instance:
 'Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail - Small Breasts, Huge Thighs  and a big red box.'

Can anyone imagine remarks like that made about John Howard, Paul Keating, Kevin Rudd? 

Usually, it is difficult to tell when someone is being put down because they are female rather than because they are disliked. This time, they have betrayed themselves. The nastiness aimed at Julia Gillard is misogyny.  The lack of support she has received from members of her own party, is also misogyny.  Julia didn't have a hope from the start.

Correction made 15th June 2013:
It appears that the menu was never used. But poor Julia can't win. She is now being criticised for the timing that it came to light, the implication being that she engineered it as a political ploy.


26th June, 2013, when an election for 14th September had already been called, there was another leadership ballot amongst the ALP. Julia Gillard was defeated by Kevin Rudd. So there ends the saga of our first and maybe our last female Prime Minister.

For myself, I'm so absolutely disgusted with the lot of them that these coming elections might see my very first donkey vote. I want to put them all last - the ALP for their stupidity in continually undermining their own leader, the Coalition because I just don't like them, and the Greens for their tendency to adopt lunatic policies. My only hope is that a reasonable independent will have a go - I reckon this might be a real opportunity for independents to find themselves with a win. So many of us are just so fed up with the major parties.  The only ones to come out of this past hung parliament with any honour have been the independents.

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  1. I don't know about Australian politics but this made interesting reading. We of course had Margaret Thatcher and in spite of sticking around when she had actually accomplished all she could and therefore spoiling her image a little I believe that she always had the good of England at heart. I know that in many places - particularly the north of England she is despised and it is probably too simplistic but it is odd isn't it how the traditionally male areas of life (mining, ship building etc) are the places that regard her with the most venom. My view of Australia is that is a male chauvinistic society - I assumed I was wrong but perhaps not eh - Fascinating. It's odd isn't it how the female companions of men in positions of power (Michelle Obama for example) are often lauded and applauded and yet Dennis Thatcher was always a figure of fun (not that he cared.) We are not as enlightened as we like to believe are we?

  2. I don't think Australia is more chauvenistic than any other Western country, but there is always that undercurrent.
    Julia has a male partner, they are not married, so there could also be that factor - moralistic types could disapprove. And she does not hide that she is atheist. There could also be that factor playing a part.
    All that I am sure of is that her performance as a politician and leader has not warranted the sheer nastiness that is directed at her.
    Thank you, Diane, for your comment.