Her story

I’m reading My Story by Julia Gillard. For overseas readers, she was Australia’s first female Prime Minister. 

There’s some of her political views I don’t agree with but in the main I’m a Labor voter (with swings towards Green sometimes). I was so glad when had a female PM, and extra glad that the first female PM was a Labor one. 

I don’t know why politicians always have to write such tombs; analysing, justifying, describing, explaining every nuance and speech and action. Most of which most people can’t remember, let alone care about. 

Still, Gillard writes like a forthright Laborite. And I love her voice. So Aussie. 

Could you hear a political leader from any other country saying this about crying when deposed?

While prime minister, I had shed tears: tears of sadness for the suffering of [others], tears of grief at the loss of my father, tears of relief … But I was not going to stand before the nation as prime minister and cry for myself. I was not going to let anyone conclude that a woman could not take it. I was not going to give any bastard the satisfaction. 

The use of bastard on page one sets the tone. Well, much of the tone. Just not the long boring bits. 

God, Rudd was an arsehole. Why do politicians let their own ego overtake them, overtake their purpose? Why do they become a traitor to their party and the people? Why do they sabotage an election for their own ego? And why is this more usually Labor politicians than Liberals?

Have you heard “that speech”? The “I will not be lectured in misogyny by that man” speech. Powerful stuff. YouTube it. 

Really, vast slabs of this book were boring. I skipped pages, sections, chapters. And that sums up part of her failure. She failed to capture, to ignite the public. She was boring. I heard her in person once. She was warm and engaging. But when she speaks a prepared speech her voice flattens and she becomes an automaton. 

And just quietly, I haven’t forgiven her statement that parents should go to their child’s school and rouse on the teachers. Yeah, thanks Julia. As if everyone isn’t an expert already. As if we don’t have enough helicopter parents. Enough whinging, “I’m going to the Minister” parents already. Enough verbal abuse by parents. She has conveniently left that foot in mouth comment out of her book. 

If I’m ambivalent about her, I’m equally ambivalent about her book. I do like redheads, though. 



8 thoughts on “Her story

  1. Excellent – a political book review! Just as I’d sat up comfortably in bed with laptop and coffee, too.

    Have you read Anne Summers’ online article, ‘Her Rights at Work’ (R-rated version) about Gillard? I’m still amazed that people sound off about Gillard and don’t know that context. Just appalling.

    I’m mostly a Labor/Green voter, too but also a bit ambivalent about Gillard. The changes to single parent support payments especially still cut. There are people whose lives have been made so difficult by that move. And yes, all the Eddie Experts in education following NAPLAN.

    I’m reading the Thatcher biography at the moment. It’s very well written though and not boring. Love looking at the machinations and the machine that is politics!

    Hope you are feeling a bit better today and Happy Mother’s Day!

    • I will give the the Summers’ article a go. The chapter on how she was treated because she was a woman was passionate, well-written and definitely not boring to read. I love my boys and my husband and love teaching boys but the sexism in Australia does get my goat. Destroy the Joint! (Well, at least like it on FB!)

      • I remember being told early as a teacher that adrenaline apparently boosts the immune system. Once you turn it off slightly (school holidays, weekends?) you get sick. Apparently explains why so many teachers spend their first week of holidays sick.

  2. We have a new left-leaning premier in Alberta. Need lots more women at the higher levels. We’ll know equality has come when all politicos are judged by their record, their voice and their achievements (or lack thereof) rather than their clothes, hair, parenting, and so-called pushiness (a label used only for women).

  3. I saw Julia Gillard speak last year – she was absolutely lovely! It was at the local university, and she spoke for a bit over time, then signed and signed and signed books for – well, I stood around chatting for an hour afterward, and she was still there.

    (As the kid of a teacher, I am well keen on the ‘let them do their job’ mantra – but MAN, I’ve had to be involved this year. Much more than I think is absolutely necessary and I cannot wait until Chaos works out high school and Mayhem works out being the big kid at primary school and I can go back to my regime of benign neglect)

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