Friday, June 25, 2010

Prime Minister Julia Gillard: Something to celebrate

In Australia we are all still reeling from the news that K-Rudd (Prime Minister Kevin Rudd) was booted/stepped aside from the prime ministership yesterday morning (depending how you look at it), and into the helm stepped Julia Gillard ... who is a woman! Our very first female PM, in fact.

There's a lot of grumbling going on, but also a lot of celebrating. I for one think it's absolutely fantabulous that after a long history of Old White Men PMs we have a woman (and a ranga!) bringing a bit of diversity to the portraits that hang in Parliament House.

To make it even more exciting, she was sworn in by Australia's first female Governer-General, Quentin Bryce.

Before the discontent sets in, before we all start objecting to her policies and labeling her appointment to PM as sneaky and underhanded and a trillion other nasty and probably undeserved things, perhaps we can pause for a moment and consider this: it's the beginning of the end of Old White Men being the only candidate for rulers of this country. Maybe one day a female PM won't be such a novelty.

Until then, go Julia! I'm gunning for you. And I'm a bit proud of you too.


  1. I'm happy that a woman finally is PM, but of you look at it in another way, she doesn't have the reponsibility of children. The day when a mother becomes PM would make me happier actually.

    Also, poor Mr Rudd. It's a bit upsetting :(

  2. And she's unmarried. And an immigrant. And an atheist. It's pretty crazy.

    I for one think she's a smart cookie. My husband is also madly in love with her.

    K-Rudd's farewell speech was sad though.

  3. Congratulations on your first female PM! I think that is kind of a big thing :) We're living in 2010 and it's about time that we can get the job we are qualified for without being excluded because of our gender or the color of our skin.

    We got our first female PM in Norway in 1981, Gro Harlem Brundtland, she was actually the mother of four(since it was mentioned by brave chickens). She was elected PM twice.

  4. How can this be a good moment- History will show deception and total lack of ethics have led to the role that JG has stolen in the style of a true fascist, She wasn't voted in but she will be voted out.

  5. I have to say I agree with David. I've always wanted a female PM but I'm so ashamed that it happened the way it did. I refuse to vote for anyone with as little morality as her and her party, even if I was a labour supporter before. Frankly, she disgusts me.

  6. "David E" here - had some trouble posting recently (curse you, google!), so I am trying to do it as an "anonymous" to see if that works.

    David & Lara; we don't actually elect Prime Ministers in Australia. Julia and Kevin were both voted in by their electorates, not by the broader population. They each became PM because the House of Reps voted them in; and the Liberals don't act much differently (look at the scheming between Howard and Costello, or Turnbull and Abbott). I think it is a mistake to fall into the American-style trap of electing personalities (even if that is exactly what they *want* us to think we are doing!).

    Having said that, I am not a fan of Gillard. I get what you're saying, Rhiannon, about putting things aside for the moment and just taking some joy from the fact that she is a woman, but I can't agree with it, because she has already shown us where her politics lie. It's in roughly the same place as Rudd's politics, the same as Abbots, the same as Howards.

    Consider, firstly, where she comes from inside the ALP. She was thrust into the PM position last week because she got the backing of right-wing factions within the ALP (these people have controlled the ALP for a long time). She got her seat in the House of Reps because she was put there by John Brumby's office - Brumby is a significant right-wing figure in the Victorian ALP. She does not come from a progressive background, and she will not represent progressive interests: she will represent the interests of the people who are supporting her (it's what PMs do, male or female).

    Secondly, her record as Deputy Prime Minister has put her on the conservative side of all the major issues of our era (refugees, the wars, taxation, welfare, aboriginal rights, the 'anti'-terror laws, 'Fair Work' (a.k.a. "Workchoices Lite")). The only progressive stance I can remember her ever taking as Deputy PM was over childcare - but even then, she has put her seal of approval on budgets that ignore childcare plans which she nominally backs. (The mining tax, while it superficially seems progressive, was only going to be used to reduce corporate taxes elsewhere - very little of that money was ever intended to benefit the people of Australia.)

    And third, the policies and stance of the ALP are the same as the Liberal Party. They're not interested in redistributing wealth, freeing society, empowering communities, increasing democracy, protecting workplace rights and unionism, rights for gays/aboriginals/muslims/refugees. I guarantee you, their program will involve slashing public spending, slashing taxes for companies (thats what the mining tax was for), using wedge issues like

    Basically, a Liberal Party platform.

    Ultimately, i don't think this is a win from a feminist perspective (and i do understand that i'm saying this as a male). Someone not-male told me recently that if feminism plays into it, it's through the rights won by women in mass grassroots campaigns, with real ideologies and real progressive values. Gillard is benefiting from the gains of feminism (and likewise, has been attacked by the Liberals simply for being a woman), but i don't think she's done anything for it in her role as the 2nd most powerful person in the country. Yes, she's a woman in power, but so was Margaret Thatcher, and I don't think that's an example to draw inspiration from.

  7. oops, i left out a piece of a sentence up there - meant to write: "using wedge issues like refugees to turn Australians against each other and push through policies that hurt everyone (except for the very wealthy and power-brokers)." -David E