Why, as a female, Julia Gillard’s rise to the Prime Ministership worries me.

Posted on July 20, 2010 by

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Julia Gillard became the Australian Prime Minister a few weeks ago with such swiftness that Australia still seems to be feeling a bit uneasy. I know that it bothered me.

Her appointment shows the instability of Labour – a party currently governing us. The first time the polls turned against Kevin Rudd, he was axed, and with this it was revealed how terribly insecure Labour are about themselves and their place with the Australian people. (Compare the months of chatter surrounding Peter Costello replacing John Howard and the wisps surrounding Julia before her appointment) Kevin Rudd was increasingly unpopular, true, but he was still seen as a leader who would take his party to victory based on two things: remnant good will from the last election along with no major stuff ups, and very few Australians wanting Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. So, if the Labour Party doesn’t believe they can win the election, why should we? No clear future policies for Labour immediately come to mind. Is there anything they want to do with another term in leadership or do they just desire to hang on to the power?

All of this unfortunately overshadows what a good thing I think we’ve got going with Julia Gillard. If she rose any other way I would be dancing on rooftops. This isn’t referring to the power juggling and backstabbing, which are just a part of politics, as to the signs of an unstable party. Julia is a good politician, one of the best candidates we’ve had for years – intelligent, grounded, driven and charismatic – and she is a woman, something that shouldn’t matter, except that it does. She is the first female leader of a major Australian political party and the first female prime minister of Australia. Unfortunately, females leaders can be used as a short-term pacification ploy, their gender discussed more in the media than the nature of their coming to power and the mess of their parties. Which is concerning as, given time, Julia could be a powerful and positive Prime Minister for Australia.

As a female, I won’t celebrate for Australian politics until Julia has been a quality politician and leader for many years and an actually game changer. For now, these events have opened up the election race for me, though I don’t see any better options. The current Liberal party is reactionary with a leader who may have charisma but also wonky personal views (his comment to a primary school that climate change is not real as it was warmer in the time of Jesus, worries me the most). The Greens are not currently geared towards running the country, though I would love to see a three party system develop in Australia. And a government cannot be run by only independents and small parties. Where this leaves us I don’t know. But I am looking forward to finding out.

Words by Alina Jeeves

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Posted in: Alina Jeeves, Opinion