June 24th, 2010

sparkly balloons


Meet Julia Gillard - Australia's first female Prime Minister!


She replaces Kevin Rudd as leader of the Labor Party after a leadership challenge today.

Julia is 48 and has been Deputy PM since the Labor party was elected in 2007. She is a lawyer by background, and has been in federal politics for 12 years. She is a strong performer, a fierce debater, and also has widespread appeal, having especially appeared on lots of Gen X and Y Tv and radio programs.

She has attracted personal criticism since being in politics esp as she has no children by choice, and is a redhead (aka 'ranga). She is also Welsh by birth, and has a male partner (they are not married), who is a hairdresser. I'll let you fill in the jokes.

Kevin Rudd was elected in 2007 after a long period of conservative rule in Australia. While he immediately made commitments such as signing the Kyoto agreement and saying Sorry to the Stolen generations, since then esp in the area of social justice have not been realised. Most recently we've seen a rollback of what had been good changes for asylum seekers to much more racist policies, and only this week the head advisor on mental health resigned due to government lack of action.

There's no dount Rudd's economic response to the GFC was fantastic and minimised its effect in Australia. A recent bold move to increase the tax on mining - while probably a great idea - was very poorly handled, and exposed his lack of a consultative approach both within his own party and with the community. There is also going to be an election this year, and I think the feeling in the party is that Kev couldn't win.

Having a female PM is fantastic. She has been part of the Labor far left and traditional Union ally, although comes to power with support of the right of the party, and its not clear where she will move on issues such as refugees, especially in an election year.

The leader of the Opposition is Tony Abbott, who is so far right it isn't funny. At the moment all I care about is Julia leading Labor to an election win. And possible kicking him in the nuts at some point. The date of the election has yet to be decided.

[Oz politics 101 - we vote for local members of parliament, and the party with the most members makes up the government. It is the party that chooses the leader ie our Prime Minister, which is why we can have a change of PM without an election).