Congratulations Julia Gillard

Written By: - Date published: 9:05 pm, June 24th, 2010 - 14 comments
Categories: australian politics - Tags:

It’s been a big day for Julia Gillard. Up late last night with Kevin Rudd and John Faulkner, the ALP’s elder spokesman, doing one of the hardest things in politics which is to front up and tell someone that you have worked with closely that it is time for them to go. Rudd’s subsequent late-night stand-up showed a natural anger, the first stage of the grief process.

Today’s caucus endorsement of Gillard and Swan without a challenge was the first sign of his acceptance. After that a very different and understandably emotional stand-up by Rudd, where as sometimes happens with substantial people the personal wellsprings of his commitment were revealed for all to see. This was followed by a bravura press conference by Gillard, with  an equally impressive showing from her at  Question Time in Parliament. ALP caucus members will be feeling that, however hard it was, the right decision has been made.

I  met Julia Gillard once, at dinner with the Australian ambassador five years ago. She is not flamboyant, but she evoked the old saying about still waters that run deep. It was clear that she was leadership material. Today she showed that to be true. It will be an interesting style of leadership, one that is quite new for the ALP. The first move today, to extend an olive branch to the mining industry, with a call to open their minds as she has opened her door, is only the start.

The ALP is a hard school; behaviour can be abrasive, putting it mildly. The Liberals are no different, particularly Tony Abbott, the current leader. Gillard has risen to the top in that school, and I am sure she can be as direct as anybody. She also has a fine sense of humour and a devastating line of parliamentary put-downs.

But her leadership style will be different. She is a superb communicator, she is self-aware, she is patient, and she does look for lasting solutions.

Gillard made the decision to  move because as she said Labor’s is a good government that has lost its way. Rudd deserves much of the credit for the fact that it is a good government; the tragedy for him was that his full-on management style was part of the reason for why it had lost its way. Good on him though for coming to Question Time in Parlliament;  courage wasn’t his problem.

The other reason for Gillard’s decision is that she is determined to get Labor back on the right path and win the next election, which she will call before the end of the year. There is a lot of steel in that lady; I think she will do just that.

14 comments on “Congratulations Julia Gillard”

  1. Bullshit apologist for Labour bought by big bisnis.

      • smokie 1.1.1

        Nothing like the high and mighty social progressives to make society worse off for everyone. Maybe you’d prefer the radical conservative Tony Abbott as Prime Minister? Because in a two-party system that’s who you’re supporting de facto.

        • Lew

          These two aren’t social progressives, they’re anarcho-socialists. They weren’t going to be happy whichever way it ended up.

          Social progressives, by and large, are ok about Gillard’s ascent, because, while marginally more conservative than Rudd, she remains a moderate. And isn’t a crazy autocratic egotist.

          Gillard might not have Rudd’s brilliance, but I think her quality is deeper — less cosmetic — than Rudd’s. His was a facade, of strong but superficial public approval backed by an absolute dearth of support within the ALP and the wider Australian left, which he alienated with a political and policy management style quite at odds with his public persona. All that having been said, Rudd was and is a superb public politician — among the few best in the world — and one of the great political minds of his generation. But it takes more than that to be PM. He will be a superb and very well-remembered statesman, and we’ve not heard the last of him.


          • RobertM

            Do you mean ascent or accent. It is said she is a lawyer who sounds like a Sydney bricklayer and the American public will need an interpreter. Possibly she’s like Bradford and Laila Harre and just puts the working class accent on. More conservative than Rudd, you’ve got to be joking. The concessions to the mining industry are recognition of a step too far and reality. Rudd was the most right wing person in the Labour for the last ten years, he was clearly to the right of Kim Beazley. Usually the most right wing able remotely stable Labour politician holds the ALP leadership and Gillard is very much an exception to the rule. Gillards triumph is a bit like Clark taking over from Moore, even though they were in opposition. Because with Gillard as with Clark it was inevitable that as soon as the girls had the numbers and she was remotely electable she would strike for the leadership.

  2. smokie 2

    Good post Mike. I think Gillard is a good decision for Labor. There’s no point losing an election because of the unpopularity of one person.

  3. Benjamin B. 3

    No worries. Noone heard anything about mining. … Just saying.

  4. joe90 4

    And you’d be right….

  5. I dreamed a dream 5

    Let me quote from the SMH on how the Australian Workers Union contributed to her victory: “Earlier in the day in Sydney, the right-wing Australian Workers Union had a leadership meeting that, included its two heavyweights, Paul Howes and Bill Ludwig.” [Emphasis mine]

    Can someone please explain to me what makes a union right-wing, in this case the Australia Workers Union? How does that differ with the New Zealand unions that I understand are left-wing?

    • Lew 5.1

      It’s mostly a matter of Australian political terminology not matching ours.

      The AWU is a Labor affiliate, and Aussie Labor is a broadly left-progressive party much as NZ Labour is. But it is much more deeply factionalised, and one of those factions is known as the Labor Right. The AWU is the strongest stakeholder in that faction. And the Labor Right is at present the dominant faction within Labor.

      The Labor Right, and the AWU, are more properly be termed ‘conservative’ than ‘right’, because they’re not economic free-marketeers (although they are broadly anti-Socialist). They’re essentially a socially-conservative workers’ agency which de-emphasises much of the social, cultural and environmental progressive agenda in favour of material blue-collar concerns.

      Incidentally, the allegations that Gillard was bought by the mining companies seem likely to be bollocks. The AWU and industry-related unions are concerned that the mining tax would ruin their industry and rob their members of jobs. Which they might. So likely their support for Gillard is conditional on a softening stance on the mining tax.


  6. Maggie 7

    Rudd may have been a capable politician, but he lacked leadership qualities – too prone to ignore anyone’s opinion but his own. He was beginning to look more and more like Tony Blair.

    It took Blair a long time to become unelectable, Rudd did it in one term, quite an achievement.

    Irony is he lost his job by doing something right – taking on the mining companies.

    Gillard won’t make the same mistake. Odds are she’ll find some different ones to make instead.

    Usually boring, Oz politics have suddenly become fascinating.

  7. Badger 8

    Julia Gillard is a disgraceful unelected puppet of the mining companies and the corrupt NSW Right Faction.

    No one should be cellebrating her ascent and the betrayal of Kevin.

  8. RobertM 9

    She’s a pragmatic politician and knows Australia’s economic wealth is underground. But surely as one of the gang of four which included Swan she was one of the major forces in the unpopular and poorly implemented polices that brought Rudd down. I expect here to scrape home in 2010 but longterm think Abbot may succed. Gillard is left wing but convincingly hetrosexual having had many boyfriends. It is interesting that a woman who is single or even a cougar like Julie Bishop has no problems in Australian politics. It shows how far behind the times we are.

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