julia gillard: what was the deal again?
Julia Gillard is no longer Prime Minister of Australia after a Labor caucus vote Wednesday night ousted her to Kevin Rudd, 45-57 votes. Rudd claimed he reconsidered his refusal to run for leadership because Australian people felt they had no real options vote-wise at the upcoming election. Gillard’s had a satirical TV show air about her, she’s been called a witch and a bitch, and much has been said about her ability to lead the nation. But what did the Gillard government actually achieve? Why does everyone hate her again?
Who even is she?
Gillard made history as our first female prime minister after challenging then PM Kevin Rudd to the leadership in June 2010. The “knifing” of Rudd formed a strong media narrative around her integrity as leader. With a background in industrial law, she began her public life in student politics and then worked for firm Slater and Gordon before being elected to the seat of Lalor in 1998. She has spoken at length about education policy being the driving force behind her political ambitions. In 2010, she went to an election as a newly elected Prime Minister and after a hung parliament negotiated with Greens MP Adam Bandt and Independent candidates to form a Labor minority government.
The Gillard Government: What did they actually do?
This is a snapshot. (Turns out parliament does quite a lot. Major portfolios like ‘the economy’ can’t fit properly here without driving you crazy with all the required detail. Though if you do want to read more on the economy and working women, let us know in the comments!) People will have different opinions about what’s positive and what’s negative here — we aren’t saying all of this is good, and we don’t agree with it all. But listed below are a handful of plans executed over the last few years. For more details go straight to the parliament’s own lists of Bills that have been passed or are pending.
- Returned to negotiations for offshore processing of asylum seekers arriving by boat after Kevin Rudd dismantled the Howard era ‘Pacific Solution’.
- Tried to negotiate an offshore processing deal with Malaysia, not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, which was then deemed invalid by the High Court because of human rights breaches.
- Opened up offshore processing facilities on Nauru and Manus Island, and began a ‘no advantage’ test that was intended to deter asylum seekers from arriving by boat, though was difficult to define in practice.
The Carbon Tax
- Negotiated a carbon price with big business, causing major controversy given Gillard’s previous assertion that there would be no carbon tax under her government.
- Put in place ‘clean energy supplement’ payments to assist lower income earners with anticipated increases to the cost of living.
- Launched MySchool website.
- Passed Gonski school reform legislation, and negotiated with states to sign on to receive additional funding (still a work in progress). Did this at the expense of $2.3 billion of tertiary funding. The policy framework could all change now under Kevin Rudd.
- Negotiated with states and territories to implement Federal health care reforms, including Federal funding of an extra $19.8 billion to flow through to state and territory hospitals by 2020.
- Plain cigarette packaging: introduced plan cigarette packing laws into parliament despite large scale advertising campaigns from big tobacco.
National Broadband Network
- Rollout began 2010-2011. Labor’s model is a Fibre to the Premises (FTTP, or ‘Fibre to the Home’) model, as opposed to the Coalition’s Fibre to the Node proposal. This helps work out what that means in real terms.
National Disability Insurance Scheme (Disability Care)
- Passed legislation to establish the National Disability Insurance Scheme, now known as Disability Care, funding care for people with disabilities regardless of how they sustained them.
- Launched and provided terms of reference for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Women at work
- Passed legislation for paid parental leave under Kevin Rudd in 2010, which was expanded to provide for ‘Dad and Partner Pay’ in 2013.
Misogyny, press coverage and everything else
You’ve heard the misogyny speech, and at Lip we have covered it with enough analysis already, but Gillard was a test of the Australian public’s reaction to a woman being in a position of significant power. In her speech confirming the leadership change last night, Gillard said her gender ‘doesn’t explain anything, but doesn’t explain nothing’ about her time in office. She described her bemusement at journalists who acknowledged her treatment was to do with her status as a landmark female leader, but said it had no affect on her popularity as Prime Minister. Analysis is obviously still in the works, and time will tell how Australia views Julia Gillard’s reign and the scrutiny she received. While some dissectors claim Gillard’s gender drove her out of office, others claim it was her lack of clear communication.
Gillard herself has expressed the turn of events as sitting somewhere in the middle, making sure to mention the part gender played in her role, but refusing to rest solely on it. In a speech that has been praised for its dignity, no real answer was given as to what went wrong. In Rob Oakeshott’s valedictory address this afternoon, he reminded listeners of the 87% success rate of bills through the House of Representatives under Julia Gillard. Like other voices, he was reminding us that the government she led achieved policy progress. The post mortem is, obviously, not totally complete. But Julia Gillard and her supporters are pointing to what they did achieve during the last three years, and are claiming it’s not as bad as the media, or voters, thought it was.
Want to understand the Gillard government? Watch the beginner’s guide:
The Misogyny Speech:
Julia Gillard on Julian Assange:
Howard Sattler asks about her partner’s sexuality:
The Blue Tie Speech:
Concession speech 26.06.13