Heads of Government

A week out from the election, and I’d better say something about our first female Prime Minister just in case she doesn’t stay that way.

Congratulations, Julia Gillard. Although, unlike what seems to be the rest of the world, I am utterly uninterested in your hair colour, wardrobe and indeed femininity, and much more interested in whether you’d make a good Prime Minister – whether you can do the job. I just wish journalists and other politicians would think the same way I do – the country might run a bit better, then.

And while we’re on the subject, three cheers for Australia, smugly congratulating ourselves on being a world leader in having a female Head of Government. I suppose many of us were uncomfortably aware of Helen Clark in New Zealand. We might have explained that away by saying to ourselves: “She’s not a real woman, and New Zealand isn’t a real country”, both charges that could equally be levelled at Maggie Thatcher and England.

I love the Australian Way of being a world leader. Kevin Rudd exemplified it at a certain climate-change conference recently, when he said that we were world leaders in the field, and we’d lead by waiting to see what everyone else would do, then do the same as everyone else. In the same way, we are a World Leader regarding women in government. We are such an advanced country.

Let me see … We were beaten by Slovakia, who scraped a woman in  by a couple of weeks before Julia. By Finland (June). By Trinidad and Tobago. By Krygyzstan. By Madagascar and Croatia, last year. By Iceland, one of my favourite countries. By Haiti and Moldovia, also last year.  South Korea and Jamaica in 2007.  Germany, the Ukraine and Macedonia. Mozambique, Peru and Senegal. Mongolia, Lithuania and Guyana. Bangladesh and Bulgaria. Rwanda, Burundi, Turkey, Canada and Poland. France, Pakistan, Lithuania and Yugoslavia. Norway, Domenica and Portugal. Not to mention the charismatic Mrs Gandhi in India. But preceding them all was Sri Lanka. As Australians, we like to consider ourselves superior, economically, socially and ethically, to many of the countries on that list. We like to believe we treat women well. I’m just so happy that, indeed, we are world leaders in following them by finally having a female in power. Congratulations.

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4 Responses to Heads of Government

  1. Kate says:

    Yes, I agree.

    I hope she is elected because it would be interesting to see how she manages the role. She is highly intelligent but pragmatic. She has some good people behind her as well.

    I am voting Labor this year for two reasons.

    Firstly, they have the best Disability Policy of any Government in Australian history. I work in the area of social policy, especially around access and inclusion, and see this as very important. Gillard’s other social policies are also much better than those of the Opposition.

    Secondly. Julia Gillard is very talented and authentic. She deserves a go. It will be a very long time before another such strong woman emerges in Australian political life.

  2. Kate says:

    Well, Nisaba – most of my friends are in perplexed state at present and out in the open air to let the impact settle. It is a not unexpected but quite strange election result.

    Labor swept to power in 2007 with so much optimism. It is a pity that the combativeness of political life possibly meant that they did not take time to communicate their victories and difficulties more effectively to the electorate. I think that Kevin Rudd is a brilliant man but too smart for his own good and ended up friendless in his own party and in the electorate outside Queensland. It is the stuff of classic tragedy.

    Julia Gillard did not expect to be in the leadership role quite so soon. She was undermined from the leaks within and possibly by some poor advice. But she also had to function in a maelstrom. I drew the Page of Wands from the Mediaeval Cats Tarot which seems to be a fairly good representation of Julia, trying to introduce fresh values and a fresh way of doing political business. I think that Julia herself is quite beautiful and presented a certain tough but vulnerable purity as the first female PM, as this Page does.

    I drew The Lovers from the same deck for Tony Abbott. I think he presented the safe conventional choice for a large proportion of the electorate. This conventional choice comes with all the conventional baggage, however. Notice how the cat in the ‘angel’ position is blind folded? The electorate was blinded a little by the same old mantras of ignorance and prejudice from the Howard years and those who cannot change.

    At least the end is not yet known.

  3. Kate says:

    Well, we have a result now. I doubt that it could be called a victory, however, but maybe we need to move away from the concept of ‘victory’.

    For the time being, perhaps, little will change. Most of us will return to the circles of our own lives.

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