Monthly Archives: July 2010

Stay single Julia!

Gillard and partner, Abbott and wife

When Julia Gillard became our first female Prime Minister over one month ago I wondered how long it would be before the media  started questioning her status as a single woman living with her partner. I didn’t have to wait long to read about her clothes and her hair and her single status-the commentariat began the critique as soon as she was anointed PM or had it begun before. Continue reading

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Christine Nixon retires from public life

From a media spectacle to the privacy of retirement

The former Police Commissioner, Christine Nixon was admitted to hospital last weekend in acute abdominal pain. Whereas her gut ache has eased, the other pain -the one that went to her heart –caused by months of public scorn will not cease so quickly. Continue reading

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The PM’s childlessness

The media is inclined to represent women as saints or virgins, whores or mothers. However our Prime Minister does not belong to any of the above groupings. But fortunately for Julia Gillard she does belong to another group. Our first female PM belongs to the increasingly large cohort of women who have chosen to remain childless. Continue reading

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Symbolism

Photo: A gathering of women leaders.

It’s official. After weeks and months of deliberating on the date of the next federal election we now know we’re off to the polls on August 21st. But before we cast our vote we need to talk about the appointment of our first female Prime Minister in terms of its symbolism. Continue reading

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Bastille Day, Melbourne July 2010

As a historical symbol of revolt against injustice, Bastille Day is being commemorated world-wide. Continue reading

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So who are you going to vote for?

The news today that President Obama had called Kevin Rudd before he called Julia Gillard doesn’t surprise me. Obama was rightly shocked over the dumping of his Australian colleague as we all were and still are.

How do you just dump a Prime Minister? Sure opposition leaders are regularly disposed of in Australian politics: Beazley, Crean, Hewson, Turnbull -the list is very long. But this has got to be a first when a Prime Minister who has brought the party to government after years on the opposition benches is so swiftly disposed of.

We will most likely be voting in August and at this stage it is predicted that  an election would see a swing of 0.7 per cent against the government on 2007. I’m surprised that polls aren’t reflecting a bigger swing against the Gillard government. Her mistakes are mounting.

Prime Minister Gillard wrote an opinion piece in The Age today called Our security is at stake in Afghanistan in which she asserts that ‘A NATIONAL government has no more important task than defending the nation, its people and their interest’. Gillard maintains that our troops are in Afghanistan ‘to combat the threat of international terrorism.’  Time to tell the troops and the voters why we are really involved in this ‘war’, Julia.

John Foster author of  A Pipeline Through A Troubled Land – Afghanistan, Canada, and the New Great Energy Game, writes that ‘Afghanistan is a strategic piece of real estate in the geopolitical struggle for power and dominance in the region.’ For this so-called ‘war’ tens of thousands of Afghans have been killed, displaced and many of these are now rightly seeking refuge in our country.

So isn’t it time that the truth is exposed and how about bringing our troops home, Julia.
And back to the problem of who to vote for. The answer may well be no-one.

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The Making of Julia

The political players are well known but not so widely acknowledged is how they really feel about their parliamentary colleagues.

The long drawn out three year electoral cycle is about to end with the federal election now very close. Should the ALP be returned with Julia Gillard as the legitimate elected Prime Minister, Gillard will immediately set about choosing her cabinet. So does she appoint those who helped bring down Kevin Rudd or does she choose her friends? Does such a political animal as Gillard have any friends?

The Making of Julia Gillard by Jacqueline Kent documents our first female Prime Minister’s life story. Interviews with Gillard’s friends and rivals are used to inform the reader of her student university life where along with the achievement of an Arts/Law degree the young Gillard involved herself passionately in student politics where she learnt her excellent debating skills.

Kent follows Gillard’s path from her highly successful legal career with the prominent law firm Slater and Gordon to her appointment as Chief of Staff to the then opposition leader John Brumby. Her real goal was to enter parliament herself and after overcoming considerable barriers to her pre selection she finally became the federal member for the Victorian seat of Lalor.

The book reveals that the relations between the current finance minister Lindsay Tanner and our new Prime Minister were never very congenial and raises the question of whether his lack of friendship for Gillard was the real reason why he decided to resign after the ‘cout d’etat’ that saw Gillard usurp the reins of the country from Kevin Rudd. Kent asserts that both Gillard and Tanner are extremely motivated and determined people. She writes that Tanner saw Gillard as ‘a careerist-too pragmatic, too ready to make deals with whoever it suited’ (Kent 2009.82).

Not that this is anything unusual: the parliament is full of those who dislike their colleagues –those who would stab their rivals in the back – those who are envious and power hungry themselves. Kent has written about Gillard as a woman who has been very fortunate in her rise to power. Of course Kent’s book was published in 2009 and before the current change of leadership.

The appointment of the new cabinet will be interesting to watch. Rudd friend and ally Maxine McKew the federal member for Bennelong has spoken out about the factional heavies but is hoping for a seat on the front bench along with the co-conspirators to the coup Bill Shorten and Mark Arbib.  Fascinating times indeed.


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After the “coup d’etat”

Photo: Julia Gillard on HMAS Broome, The Age 8/7/10

It is two weeks since the ‘coup d’etat’ that removed Kevin Rudd from the office of Prime Minister of Australia and saw Julia Gillard sworn in as our first female PM. There was ‘rejoicing on the streets’ and women urged their daughters to aim high.

What has our first female PM achieved in this short time?

Her first week in office saw her calming down the mining multinationals and giving them what they want at a loss of at least 1.5 billion to the federal coffers -A real backdown and a victory for the miners surely.

This week Gillard has announced a new off shore processing area for asylum seekers. This time it isn’t Nauru but it is Timor. Don’t you think that Timor has had enough of Australia’s meddling? Weren’t our soldiers over there only a few years ago keeping the peace and making sure we got access to the Timor sea oil? Should we really be asking this poor nation to take asylum seekers while we are such a rich country. Why can’t they be processed here?

This is just another game of comeuppance that Gillard is playing with the leader of the opposition Tony Abbott. He is playing tough on the asylum seeker issue and Gillard has no choice but to play hard as well. She has to win the votes of those Australians who are frightened that we will be swamped by refugees, many of whom live in marginal seats and there are many of these obviously or Gillard and Abbott would not be playing this awful game.

It’s all about votes. So why does it matter if our PM is male or female? Is it possible in this age of rampant corporatization for anyone to lead differently? It seems not.

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