After growing up as a Welsh immigrant in Adelaide, Julia Gillard became Australia’s first female Prime Minister. Her term as prime minister lasted three years and two days.
No politician has ever had to endure the villification that this woman went through during her time as Prime Minister of this nation. The highest office one can attain, yet she commanded little respect from fellow Australians. Why? Wouldn’t females rally around her simply on gender grounds? Would she have been as harshly criticized if she was a man?
Firstly, many dissidents in her own party, including the former leader, actively worked behind the scenes against her. Her predeceding leader was popular with the people, but couldn’t govern within his own cabinet, due to his dictatorial, autocratic style. He launched a vendetta to de-stabilize her from the momemnt he was deposed. Sore Loser!
Secondly, the media like to sell papers, and dissing the PM became a popular topic. Anything she did, however laudable or momentous, was canned and twisted by the opposition (although, I have to admit, that is their job) and the pro-opposition media. Yet undaunted, she continued on with doing her job and making some important changes.
Thirdly, she was attacked and ridiculed, based on her personal life and red hair. For heavens sake, are Australians so shallow as to base their judgement on someone based on their hair colour? Apparently so. School kids flung sandwiches at her when she visited a school in Brisbane’s south, and this act was repeated by some no-brain copy cats school kids, a short time later. To me, the School principal should also take the blame for not prepping those kids, prior to the visit. And what happened to the kid who threw the sandwich? He got a 2 week suspension. I mean, really? I am sure he really suffered. Two weeks off school….geez! What a punishment! No matter what your politics, the Prime Minister of a country should garner respect, not be treated in such a disgusting manner. Are we animals here or human beings with a right to vote?
Shock jock on radio stations mocked Julia’s personal relationship, because she is unwed. I prefer to think she is true to her values. If there is no reason to marry, why should she, just so that it looks politically correct? Would you want someone leading the country who just does something only to impress the public? Does she even need to be a moral role model? Where is the social justice and inclusiveness/egalitarianism Australian is known for? As a society, are we mature enough to accept a de facto relationship in our leader? Apparently not.
Fourthly, a hung parliament and coalition with Independant politicians is always fraught with difficulty and usually means a shortened term of office and trouble gaining any legislative headway. The opposition felt they were robbed! Julia Gillard was the only one able to form a government, and was strong and stoic till the end when the pressure of the relentless attacks forced some of her loyal colleagues to jump ship causing a leadership spill. Emotionally calm and stable, one cannot compare her to Thatcher, (the iron lady who ruled with her fist), but rather, she is able to debate and negotiate, rationally and based on logic, instead of emotion. Was this the thing that caused her lack of appeal? Does the average Australia like a charismatic, emotional leader? Perhaps.
Ironically, she was ousted last night by the man she ousted, Kevin Rudd. Kevin is charismatic, and garners much support from the average Australian. Whether he garners enough to win the next election, which promises to be a landslide win to the conservative opposition, one can only speculate. However, before last night’s leadership challenge, Julia stated that politics is not about personalities, and I think this is the only time Julia got it wrong, very wrong.
I have been speaking to people I meet in cafes, car service offices, work, supermarkets, and everywhere I hear people discussing political personalities, but getting them to admit that they are blinded by the charismatic principle in politics, is impossible. By and large, they vote on personalities, because most people are disinterested in the finer mechanics of politics and party policies. The opposition has less than a handful of policies, yet they are well in front in the polls. Point proven. Catchy slogans have won elections before and probably will again. If I hear ,”Stop the boats”, on more time, I think I will vomit. How simplistic can you be to think you can solve a complex issue like refugees in 3 words?
Julia G. will now leave politics, but her place in history is secure. One thing that will happen, in the coming weeks, is, an election, the result of which will be something every Australian will ponder about.