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.