What can be said about the events of the last few weeks?
Our good old friends, the “faceless men”, have been at it again. Looking down the barrel of an electoral tsunami, a pioneering woman was dumped from the top job in the land.
I was planning to write a long rant about misogyny, but that topic has finally come to everyone’s attention and been done to death. Now she is not longer prime minister, of course it becomes apparent to everyone that Julia Gillard was subjected appalling treatment by the press, the parliament, the magazines, everyone. Now it can be revealed, like this was some huge secret. Here’s a tip people, it was the elephant in the room all along. A big ugly elephant with the voice of some shock jock frothing at the mouth about a woman who wasn’t chained to the sink.
Rant mode off.
For the record, history will judge Julia as a good prime minister. I’m getting in early – I really liked her. She is tough as nails, to have endured the tough job of running a minority government whilst being subjected to the aforementioned misogynist shitstorm. By some measures, for example, the amount of legislation passed, hers was the most productive Australian government ever. And progressive legislation it was, for the most part. Aside from the weeping sore of “illegal” boat arrivals and the bizarre and degrading solution they came up with.
If I turn my cognitive dissonance up to eleven and concentrate, I find much to approve of. Apologising to the victims of forced adoptions. The National Disability Insurance Scheme. Imposing a carbon price, getting us a seat on the UN security council, legislation protecting whistle blowers, the list is long.
Gillard was amazing in parliament. She gave as good as she got to the opposition, and the vile members thereof. I loved listening to her during question time, she was fiery, she was pointed, she fired barbs. And I will always admire this speech, as much for the way it was delivered as it content:
“Oh he’s looking at his watch because a woman has been talking for too long.”
I never understood why she was held in such low esteem. The government lost its way now and then, and they did a terrible job of communicating what they had achieved. To bolderize a famous quote, legislation must not only be enacted, it must be seen to be enacted.
I know that my circle of friends – largely inner city lefties – are not a representative sample. And I consume a very selective set of media, I never ever watch the commercial television news, I listen only to News Radio on the AM band, who at least attempt to be a raw source. And I read only certain news web sites. So in some ways I’m like the inverse Fox news watcher, my world view is shaped by the media I consume and I chose that very carefully to… support my world view.
So I haven’t been witness to how Gillard was portrayed by Rupert Murdoch’s “news” outlets, or the kind of TV news that only shows a story if they’ve got good vision. Hence my puzzlement at the hatred she received.
She is a loss to the Australian parliament. I hope she finds something worthy to do in public life. I’m glad we have an ex-prime minister who is moving back to her rather utilitarian brick house in Altona. The ALP loves its old stalwarts – witness the way Bob Hawke is wheeled out for big occasions – I hope she joins that clan, like Gough and Keating, to be honoured by the party she once led.
Good luck, Julia.