A Rudderless leader

By July 1, 2013Uncategorized

If you’re interested in Australian politics, you’ll be well aware that the last three years have been dominated by one woman – Julia Gillard. If, like most people outside Oz, you don’t track the nation’s political horseplay, here’s a guide to the perilous journey of one fiery feminist from Wales.

In 2010, Gillard arrived with a bang on the Australian political scene. The Labour MP ousted the leader of her party – and the Prime Minister of the country – ahead of a crucial election which pundits believed he was set to lose. It was the equivalent of George Osborne removing David Cameron from his post. The gamble paid off – at first.

Julia became Australia’s first female Prime Minister but, with shades of similarity to Britain’s first female PM, her entire time in leadership would be dominated by division.

A passionate feminist, Ms Gillard campaigned admirably for equal rights for women. However, simultaneously, she took a religious stance against gay marriage. She would also later make a public statement on immigration that sat uncomfortably with many within her socially democratic party.

Alongside all of this, the Australian media revelled in a misogynistic male-dominated debate about the PM’s hair colour, her fashion sense and even her nasal voice.

Throughout this entire period, the man many accused Julia of stabbing in the back lurked in the shadows waiting for his moment.

June 2013 – re-enter stage-left, Kevin Rudd. The man so cruelly deposed seized an opportunity and championed a vote to remove Ms Gillard ahead of – you guessed it – a crucial election she was expected to lose. The same actions that led to Rudd’s removal brought him back to power and Julia’s time was over.

Australia is often perceived as a haven for Brits searching for sunshine and the good life. It’s rarely held up as any kind of hotbed of politics. However, the Gillard affair has lessons for us all, regardless of whether or not we are politically minded.

Observers say her removal is simply karma. Others say we never got to see the ‘real, truthful Julia’.

From day one, her journey to power seriously damaged her credibility. Good reputation is not something you can buy or assume. It’s based on the principles of honesty and integrity. Ms Gillard’s trials and tribulations have lessons for us all – especially those in public office.



Brian O’Neill