Someone who doesn’t know much about politics (Scout) on Julia’s final moments.
On the afternoon of Wednesday 26 June, I promised my father that if Prime Minister Julia Gillard lost the vote of yet another leadership spill in the Labor Caucus room, I would eat a whole chilli. I’m glad we didn’t shake on it.
Gillard has been enduring a “difficult environment” in Parliament, to put it generously. She has been catcalled, named a “witch”, a “bitch”, “Ju-Liar”, a saucy wench with a “fruit” for a partner and a “fat arse” (Germaine Greer, take a bow). Her tenure as Australia’s first female Prime Minister was not merely one of reform in spite of a hung Parliament, but also akin to shining a torch through the cracks of carefully papered-over Australian sexism and chauvinism.
And this bipartisan misogyny, in part, was her downfall. She broke the cardinal rule of the Boys Club by being born with a functioning uterus and ovaries. Now she is back in her place. The only winners of this leadership spill are the men in blue ties.
I thought that no political party would be so foolhardy as to attempt a change in leadership to the previous Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who Gillard ousted in 2010. But polls speak louder than policies these days (Gillard’s approval rating at 29% according to Newspoll on Tuesday, released a day before the same beleagued woman passed hallmark Gonski Reforms to benefit sixty per cent of Australian school children). Bill Shorten, a key player in the Labor party, made a stunning tribute to Judas Iscariot and Brutus of Julia Caesar (pun intended) and switched to support her challenger, Rudd. So Gillard is out. Out of the leadership, out of politics. She played a high stakes game, and she lost. But, unlike her predecessor and successor, she has been able to put ego aside for the sake of resurrecting the stale cadaver that is the Labor party’s unity.
Newly minted Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a smug, grinning appearance in the House of Representatives on 27 June. It made such a stark contrast to Gillard’s graceful, sharp and dignified resignation speech. So it is this image of Gillard that I hope the nation can remember.
(NOTE: SKIP TO 7.39 FOR THE BEST RETORT TO THE REFERENCES OF HER LAMPOONING BY THE MISOGYNISTIC AUSTRALIAN PRESS. Because we all know that, if you’re born with ovaries, they come with a complimentary Gender Card to play when convenient.)