politics

We have a new Prime Minister

26 June, 2010

Close up photo of the face of Julia Gillard, 27th Prime Minister of Australia, a white woman with chin length red hair. She is grinning. A small part of the Australian flag is visible behind her.

This has been an overwhelming and stressful week for me, so I have lain low in order to reflect and recuperate, but I wanted to mark this occasion with a post. Australia has a new Prime Minister, and she is a woman – an unmarried non-religious and childless woman! I’ve never felt so represented. It’s a remarkable thing but I hope it means that it won’t be remarkable in the future and I hope more people are represented at the highest offices in Australia too – not just the white males.

Change has happened so quickly in Australia this week, yet real change in terms of social justice happens so slowly. I know it scares most people, but I’m hungry for change. I am doing pretty well as a white middle-class woman with citizenship but other people in this country are not. I want to live in an Australia where Indigenous Australians have the same access to health and education as white Australians. I want to live in an Australia where women are paid the same as men for doing exactly the same damned job. I want to live in an Australia that shares its many opportunities and resources with people who are fleeing countries, desperate for help. I want to live in an Australia that invests in its young people and does not censor information. I want to live in an Australia that respects each precious individual and does not pander to corporations. I want to live in a fair country.

People have called me foolish and naive, and I have consequently hidden my politics but I have never changed them. I may support certain governments on many issues but I also hold them accountable for poor decisions on other issues with the same vigor. I can’t be ashamed of that, and I won’t be.

So we have a new Prime Minister, one who represents me more than any of the Prime Ministers that have looked after this country since I was born, but I am now even more encouraged to speak out about things that are important.

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  • Stephania

    While I compltely agree with you how great it is to have a woman finally as prime minister, I wish it was on better terms. I think that it would've been way more respectable if she and her party were voted in by the people, instead of kicking out the other bloke, and putting her in.

    However I share your vision of what kind of Australia you would like to live in. I do believe and have hope that we will see that vision compltely fulfilled within our lifetime. (I dont think it's unrealistic either – just look at what kind of changes our parent's generation have seen!)

  • also, she was born in Barry which is just outside Cardiff, which is where I live! South Wales ♥ New South Wales!

  • nush

    I don't understand why everyone is so hung up on the fact that the party got Rudd to step down. The Labour party were in free fall and there was (and still is) a very real chance that they could lose the next election…at which point we'd end up with Abbott as PM.

    As a pedantic aside since we vote in a party and not a leader Gillard is well entitled to the position as a freely elected member of parliament.

  • This is exciting news for Australia. I can only hope that soon (please, soon!) that Canada will follow suit.

  • Amanda

    I don't think that Stephanias comment was so much about being 'hung up' on pushing Rudd out.

    My interpretation of her comment was: woo hoo first female prime minister. But, because the people didn't vote her in she feels it doesn't carry as much significance. Stephania please correct me if i'm wrong.

    That aside, the way I feel is that this event would have been more remarkable if we did vote her in. I believe that this would show our society is truly shifting is views.

  • nush

    The hung up comment was referring more to the general public comments that have been prevalent rather than Stephania herself, a majority of people against it bring up the fact that Gillard 'wasn't elected' and that they pushed Rudd out.
    The Liberal party have had three leader changes in recent times, and yet no one has batted an eyelid nor made it the primary focus of debate.
    The way our political system works means Gillard was voted in (as a member of Parliament),and it us up to the party (rightly or wrongly) who decides who leads them and ultimately the country.

  • I hope we continue to move forward under Julia Gillard.

    She's an immigrant, she went to a public school, she was raised by working-class parents, she went to uni, even dropped out of her first degree to pursue another, she lives in the Western suburbs of Melbourne with her partner who is a hairdresser, and we know of one overt and public incident where she was attacked by Sen. Bill Heffernan, who said she was unfit to be deputy PM because she was “deliberately barren” and therefore couldn't understand the community she was representing.

    Well, excuse me while I hope she sticks it to every self-important misogynist and leads Australia forward. Besides the fact she couldn't represent me more if she tried, I think she represents hard working, everyday Australians more than any of her opponents, and I hope people recognise this.

    People shouldn't be judged on where they come from, where they live, what their partner does for a living, whether or not they have children or plan to have children, or their hair when they're having a bad hair day (or year), and yet they are.

    If I was Julia, I'd even consider starting a family as PM ;)
    Go Julia.

  • Stephania

    Amanda, your interpretation was correct.

    I'm compltely well aware that our political system doesnt have the public vote for particular people as prime minister, instead we vote for the party and take on whoever they choose as leader of their party.
    However, while keeping that in mind, the Labour party well knew that their party won the election in 07 because of the charisma and character of the person who was leader of their party at that time. It was a pretty drastic move to change leaders of their party while that person was in fact the prime minister, and could lose a lot of people who may have disliked some of the things that was going on, but still would've voted Labour anyway.

    Personally, I would've liked to have seen Rudd complete his term and let the next election be a decider on how the public feels about what the party was doing. He was such a massive part of them winning in the first place, and frankly I see him as one of the few politions that actually connect with people and answer hard questions instead of dodging them. (And i completely acknowledge the fact that he AND his party had put together some pretty crappy things).

    That's just my opinion, and I dont squash or put down any other people's opinions.

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