Gillard: Mixed Feelings

Julia Gillard speaks with her hand held up, Kevin Rudd's face is in the background

(Image source: Forbes Advocate)

I’ve been happily anticipating the eventual elevation of Julia Gillard to PM for ages. But is now the right time?

The factional leaders on the Right in the Labor caucus have withdrawn their support from Kevin Rudd, along with the key Australian Workers Union (AWU). The bookies give her the odds to win the leadership ballot. It remains to be seen whether a change of leader will cut the knees out from under the sustained media attack on Labor, or whether it will merely encourage them to go after her head instead with even more vigour.

Update 2010-06-24: Our first female Prime Minister has been sworn in
(video, poor quality). (Transcript of her acceptance speech press conference)

Categories: parties and factions

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31 replies

  1. Transcript of Kevin Rudd’s press conference announcing the leadership ballot (ganked from Catallaxy):

    PM: Earlier this evening Julia Gillard came to see me and has requested a ballot for the leadership of the Labor Party. As a result of that request I will be writing to the Secretary of the Caucus to convene a special meeting of the Caucus at nine o’clock in the morning. It’s important I believe, in the interests of the Party and the Government, for these matters to be resolved as a matter of urgency.
    I was elected by the people of Australia as Prime Minister of Australia. I was elected to do a job. I intend to continue doing that job. I intend to continue doing it to the absolute best of my ability. Part of that job has been to steer this country through the worst economic crisis the world has ever seen in 75 years. I believe the Government has acquitted itself well to that task. Part of the reason the Government was elected was to deliver fundamental reforms in the health and hospital system. I believe the Government has acquitted itself well to that task as well. Part of what the Government was elected to do was also to deliver fair outcomes for pensioners in Australia, and I believe we’ve done that well by increasing the pension to the extent that we have.
    These are important reforms; infrastructure, education, health, hospitals, closing the gap with Indigenous Australians, also the apology to the first Australians. As Prime Minister of the country I’m proud of each and every one of these achievements. There is much more to be done and we intend to get on with the job of doing it.
    It’s become apparent to me in the course of the last period of time, the last several weeks, that a number of factional leaders within the Labor Party no longer support my leadership. That is why it is imperative that this matter be resolved.
    I therefore will be contesting the leadership of the Party, and therefore the Government, tomorrow at that ballot. I think it’s important for stability for the Government and the Party that this occur. As I said before it’s far better these things are done quickly rather than being strung out over a period of time.
    I’d say one or two other things as well.
    If I am returned as the leader of the Party and the Government, and as Prime Minister, then I will be very clear about one thing, this Party and Government will not be lurching to the right on the question of asylum seekers, as some have counselled us to do.
    Also on the question of climate change, we will be moving to a timetable on emissions trading which is of the Government’s decision, contrary to the views of some in terms of when that best occurs. These are important reforms for the future, there’s much work still to be done.
    Right now obviously we’re in the midst of a debate on the future of the taxation system. This is a hard debate, a hard debate which has been waged in previous times as well. Tax reform is never easy, a lot of paint has been taken off the Government on the way through. It’s also been difficult for previous Governments engaged in the business of hard reform. We don’t resile from that challenge. However, this obviously has created some challenges and tensions within our Party, and I mentioned before, having lost the support of certain factional leaders.
    Therefore, it’s time to get on with the business of resolving this as quickly as possible as the national interest is at stake. I conclude with where I began.
    I was elected by the people of Australia to do a job.
    I was not elected by the factional leaders of the Australian Labor Party to do a job, though they may be seeking to do a job on me, that’s a separate matter.
    The challenge therefore is to honour the mandate given to me by the Australian people. We’ve made mistakes on the way through, I’ve been very upfront about that. But, in navigating this economy through the worst crisis the world has seen; in keeping hundreds of thousands of Australians in jobs who would otherwise be on the unemployment queues; of that I am fundamentally proud and we intend to continue that reform. Before you ask your questions, I’ll take two or three questions and then as you may appreciate I have some other work to do.
    JOURNALIST: Do you think you can win tomorrow?
    PM: I believe I am quite capable of winning this ballot tomorrow based on the soundings that we’ve taken most recently, then I believe there is a strong body of support for the continuation of my leadership.
    JOURNALIST: Has Julia Gillard told you she’s standing against you?
    PM: I indicated before that Julia has asked me to have a ballot of the leadership of the Labor party, I’ve responded to that request. I’m sorry if I didn’t make that clear before.
    JOURNALIST: How do you feel personally, do you feel betrayed?
    PM: Look politics is a tough business, but the business of politics is about doing what’s right for the country.
    I can say in full and honest conscience that I have taken every decision that I have taken so far as Prime Minister in the nation’s interest. A lot of those decisions were hard and rough on the way through but I’ve appreciated the strong support of my colleagues on the way through as well. They have been a fantastic team. But we’ve gone into some heavy weather of late, a few people have become shall I say a little squeamish at that. I’m not for getting squeamish about those things, I am about continuing the business of reform and providing good, strong, proper government for the people of Australia, the people of Australia who elected me as Prime Minister.
    JOURNALIST: You mentioned asylum seekers and the ETS, are you talking about a change of policy in both those areas?
    PM: I am being very plain about what I said before. And you’ve heard me say things about asylum seekers policy, and recently. I believe it is absolutely wrong for this country and absolutely wrong in terms of the values which we hold dear, to get engaged in some sort of race to the right in this country on the question of asylum seekers, I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. That’s the direction the Liberal party would like to take us, under my leadership we will not be going in that direction.
    Furthermore, can I say this, on the question of emissions trading which you have raised and obviously is a matter of great controversy in the community. Let me be very clear. Action on climate change cannot be achieved in the absence of an emissions trading scheme. We need a price on carbon. And that price on carbon needs to be put on it within a reasonable timeframe. That would be the decision of the government, assuming I am re-elected as Prime Minister.
    Last one for you, Malcolm.
    JOURNALIST: Prime Minister would you expect Ms Gillard to stand down as Deputy Prime Minister if you get up and win tomorrow?
    PM: I am simply calling for a ballot for the leadership of the Labor Party, I believe that’s the right and responsible course of action to undertake for the simple reason that that was the request which has been made of me.
    My fundamental interests are to preserve the good name and standing of this Australian Labor Party, and to act in the national interest on behalf of the Australian government. We have large challenges ahead, not least of which is an upcoming G20 summit in Toronto, at which I am currently scheduled to lead an Australian delegation. This G20 summit will deal with a whole range of fundamental reforms to the financial system, which goes to the interests of the Australian banks and the cost of credit in this country.
    These are important national interests to pursue, it is one reason why I’ve decided, apart from others, that it’s important to resolve this matter of the leadership as a matter of urgency. There are national interests at stake here, which go beyond the personal interests of me as an individual, which go beyond the personal interests of me as a politician, which go beyond the personal interests of me as a Prime Minister. Those national interests should be equally in our thinking at a time like this. My party’s interest is important as well, these two matters should be resolved as a matter of urgency and I have a few urgent things now to attend to.
    Thank you.

  2. I feel exactly the same way. I think Gillard would (will) make a fine PM, it’s past time that we had a woman in the office, and I DO think that the Australian people are willing to vote for her. However, I’m struggling to see why a leadership ballot is warranted at this time — Rudd has done a fairly good job (as you said the other day, tigtog, he’s pretty much acted exactly as we would have expected him to), and on the issues where I feel that Rudd has done badly, Gillard has supported him. I have heard some rumblings that this might be about the mining super-profits tax, and that is a policy I support, and I would be sorry if a Gillard win meant that the policy was scrapped.

  3. I looked to see what the “I’m a proud single issue voter, and it’s knocking down this particular ‘net filtering proposal” crowd are up to: judging from the #openinternet tag on Twitter a lot of them are primarily watching for a reshuffle under Gillard to see Conroy no longer Communications Minister. iTWire picked it up. Lundy would be a better Minister regarding knowledge of IT issues. But it’s unclear to me what role Conroy played in the spill, perhaps he would need to be promoted out of Communications if Gillard wins, if anything.
    On the general issue… I guess I’m hoping the ALP knows something that Hoyden, LP and various other sites don’t.

  4. There’s no time like the present for making a change that’s 100% for the better. This is a day to celebrate!

    • So Gillard and Swan are elected unopposed. That actually gives me a bit of hope for the party iitself – I hope that she offers him Rudd the Foreign Affairs portfolio and that he takes it.
      OK, I’m allowing myself to feel properly excited for her now.

  5. Please please please let this be the end of the web filter.

    • There’s a chance for that – apparently Conroy was one of the people surprised by the ballot taking place, so she doesn’t owe him anything faction-wise (not right now, anyway).
      He swings enough factional weight that he pretty much has to be on the Cabinet somewhere, but a Peter Principle promotion sorts him out nicely. To be honest, there are many portfolios where he’d be more across the background anyway and could potentially do a halfway decent job, too.

  6. I’m with you on the mixed feelings, with much the same reasons. But I’m hopeful.
    And for now, I’m just going to bask in the awesomeness that is Australia getting its first female PM 🙂

  7. And for now, I’m just going to bask in the awesomeness that is Australia getting its first female PM 🙂
    Yes, this is the stage that I’m at too. I have my reservations as to how it came about, but it’s done now, so GILLARD FTW.

  8. I’m cautiously hopeful for how Gillard will be as PM, but I do admit to being very afraid that the Labour Right who pushed for this spill will also push for even more of a hardline approach to refugees.

  9. Cautiously optomistic, but hoping that we don’t end up with “women aren’t better off under a female Prime Minister” as if we suddenly stopped living in a patriarchy or something.

  10. It may make me shallow as a puddle, but right now I’m enjoying the idea that the Liberal party just spent a lot of money on their Kevin Lemon ad, and now it’s all wasted.

  11. Happy to see a woman PM, but I am concerned that JG owes this to the factional leaders. The way this conspired doesn’t sit right.

  12. I looked Julia up on Wikipedia only to see her described as a ‘feminist cunt’. SIGH

  13. Imagine that in another 30 years a phrase like ‘living in sin’ might be consigned to history. Also, what the hell is wrong with being a hairdresser?

    • I expect it’s that, in context of old tropes about who was and was not acceptable in high office, hairdressing was considered
      (a) not manly (which of course makes her less womanly for having him as a partner)
      (b) not a high-status professional (which of course makes them both oiks)
      There’s still strong echoes of both those ideas floating around in the comments on MSM sites today.

  14. To be honest, I’m strongly expecting the impact of Australia’s first female Prime Minister to be… more of the same. Let’s not forget that first and foremost, Julia Gillard is a politician, and her job as Prime Minister is to get the ALP re-elected in the federal election she will have to ask for by the end of the year. So don’t expect any huge direction changes from the government, don’t expect miracles, and don’t expect her gender identity to play a huge role in these decisions – or at least, don’t expect it to be playing a bigger role than being a new leader in a government which is down in the polls and heading into an election which neither major party really wants (I doubt the Liberal party is really sold on the idea of Tony Abbott as PM either… or at least, I sincerely hope not).
    What to expect: expect the media to make a really big thing out of Julia Gillard being female. Expect a trebling of the interest in her private life, her professional life, and for even the merest whiff of either private or professional scandal to be leaped on by the Aussie mainstream media (because let’s face it, they have never been the strongest supporters of the ALP) as though it’s the next Azaria Chamberlain. Expect a lot more articles about the whole “issue” of women in professional positions (probably mostly negative). Expect a lot more domestic scenarios to crop up in political cartoons; expect the rest of the Labor caucus to be treated as “hen-pecked husbands” by the political satirists.
    Oh, and expect that if the ALP loses the next election, Julia Gillard will be dragged up by all corners of the political establishment as more “proof” that women aren’t suited to the top jobs, or that Australians “don’t want women in parliament” or whichever sexist trope is being resurrected this week.

  15. Meg, you said it all. (And Mindy. And the OP.)
    I’m ecstatic that there’s the first woman PM in Australia, but at the same time I can see the patriarchal tropes wending their way through the MSM in the next few months. Ugh…

    • I’m wishing she hadn’t pandered to the unnecessarily presidential view that the electorate likes to take about our PM (I’m talking about saying that she won’t move into The Lodge until/unless she leads Labor to win the next election). That just is not how our system works and this rhetoric reinforces people’s misunderstandings (I have a rant building in me about this – it’s not as simple as “Westminster system – end of story” but neither is the Party choosing its Leader fundamentally undemocratic).
      Anyway, Gillard could easily have staved off any impression of an unseemly rush to The Lodge by stating that she wouldn’t move in until Parliament resumed for its next session. Easy-peasy. This other rhetoric strikes me as a misstep.

  16. Did anyone watch the 7.30 Report last night? I haven’t checked LP, but personally I thought she had KOB on toast. She refused to let him dictate to her, and while the Lodge thing was a misstep, I did like how she said she wouldn’t be kicking Kevin out, that he had to have time to sort himself and his family out. I think by the end of it she had KOB in the palm of her hand. It would seem that she will be a much more personable PM in public at least.

  17. Yes, she actually made Kerry laugh.

  18. I thought it was an interesting interview. Kerry was clearly not wanting to be accused of going easy on her, insisted on a bunch of things. Gillard played it terse at times – although I do like some of the ways she refuses to talk about some things, generally by treating the questioner as if they were being a bit foolish in asking – but she was charming as well; open and clear and with a great sense of humour. I don’t think Kerry *wanted* to be easily won, but that last comment just… well, just got him.
    I remain ambivalent. I am *so* excited about us having a woman PM. I feel badly for Kevin Rudd, but I do think a government run out of his office is a problem, and that he’s alienated not just people in his party, but the Australian public. I worry that the ‘backstabbing bitch’ meme, which the Libs are certainly citing with vigour, is going to tap into a sexism which is less easily named (in the MSM, anyway) than that in, say, comments about barrenness, bodies or clothes. Already I’ve seen her compared to Lady Macbeth, which is just so intensely problematic on so many fronts… Then again, I find it very odd that *Abbott* is the one playing this line, given *his* history! Sheesh!

  19. Oooh, I’ll have to see if I can catch last night’s 7:30 Report on iView this afternoon.
    I still keep swinging back and forth between feeling sorry that Rudd didn’t have a chance at a second term (although I don’t like everything he did, I think he still had more to offer), and feeling a giddy elation whenever I think of Gillard as PM.
    It’s weird… I expected this year’s election to be fairly uneventful, with Labor maybe losing one or two seats, but ultimately being returned to government. Now, nothing is certain, and this looks to be a crucially important election in Australia’s history. With Gillard in charge of Labor and Abbott in charge of the Coalition, I don’t think anyone can claim that there’s “no difference” between the two, or that either party is imitating the other in order to provide an option that makes voters feel safe.

  20. Timor’s President Dr Ramos Horta had his little “joke” yesterday:

    Dr Ramos-Horta concluded his week-long tour of Australia in Sydney on Friday with a function hosted by NSW Premier Kristina Keneally, the state’s first female premier.
    He noted the rise of women to the nation’s top political posts and in particular the ascension of Julia Gillard, sworn in as Australia’s new prime minister on Thursday by the nation’s first female governor-general, Quentin Bryce.
    “One lesson I will probably (take) from Australia going back to Timor is I’m very pleased we don’t have a vice president, and a woman vice president,” Dr Ramos-Horta joked. “Probably I would not be president any longer. Women seem to have taken over in this country.”
    With women making up 30 per cent of East Timor’s parliament, Dr Ramos-Horta wondered if men in his country had any political future.
    “I wonder what is the fate of us men a few years from now,” he said. “Some already are taking cooking lessons because they probably have to go to the kitchen.”
    East Timor’s president spent the day touring Sydney, meeting with NSW’s female governor, Marie Bashir, and visiting St Vincent’s Hospital.

  21. Oh, Ramos-Horta fail.
    I caught the headline of that story on the C7 scroll in Martin Place on Friday night, whinged about it over a drink (although gave him a modicum of the benefit of the doubt, given what news agencies can do with headlines) and promptly forgot about it.
    And now I see it really was as toxic as the headline suggested. *sigh*

  22. *Hears whistling noise of rage in ears*. Yes not quite 1/3 representation is surely a sign that men will become obsolete.

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