Julia Gillard – Don’t give up on her just yet
This entire entry requires me to choke down a lot of very loud words that I’ve spoken in the past.
I’ve spent a whole lot of time being critical of the Australian Labor Party, and particularly of Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan over the past few years. I was scanning through my Twitter history, a moment ago and realized that this time last year I was actually congratulating Kevin Rudd on his resignation as a Minister in the Gillard cabinet in preparation for a renewed leadership challenge against her.
I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but it’s fairly recent – like, the last week or two recent – that I’ve realized, Julia Gillard has grown on me as a Prime Minister. Apparently, this is just in time for the rest of Australia to decide that they can’t stand her and think she should be ousted in, if you believe the commentary surrounding the most recent opinion polls, potentially one of the most dramatic political annihilations of modern history.
So perhaps there’s an element of the whole typical, “Back the underdog,” Aussie character coming out of me here, but honestly, I’m not normally like that – at least, unless you count my tragic love of the Richmond Football Club.
What my problem has really been, I think, has been the et tu, Brute, factor of Julia Gillard’s prime ministerial ascension. I still have a very clear recollection of her telling the country that there was more chance of her lining up to play full forward for the Western Bulldogs than being Prime Minister, only days before she was part of the Great Rudd Assassination of 2010.
Now questions have arisen about just how much a part of this she actually played, and how she was perhaps the figurehead installed by those terrible Faceless Men of the Labor Party – but regardless, the simple truth is that you’d have to be deaf and blind or deliberately ignorant to have not seen and heard the rumblings that were occurring at the time, even if she didn’t have a direct part to play, she certainly must have had enough awareness to understand that suggesting she might replace Barry Hall instead of Kevin Rudd was a pretty barefaced lie.
And look, I still see this as a problem.
However, eventually you have to get past these things. There came a point in the era of this Labor Government where I had to admit that perhaps they weren’t just skating through the Global Financial Crisis on the tails of the excellent economic situation that the Liberals left them with. Just like that, eventually I’ve had to come to admit that perhaps not everything Julia Gillard does is with malice, selfishness and betrayal.
And in fact, maybe she has more integrity than I’ve given her credit for.
What I’ve seen mark Julia Gillard’s time as Prime Minister is determination, persistence and a remarkable strength to stand by her guns. For the record, I’m not now just doing a complete backflip and singing her praises, I’ve also seen her go back on promises – such as the Carbon Tax (sorry, “price”) – and make comments I wholeheartedly disagree with like stating that being in Government isn’t about listening to the people. What I am saying, though, is that she probably hasn’t been as bad as I’ve thought and made her out to be.
Now we’re six months out from an election and the opinion polls say that Gillard has fallen to her lowest approval rating in – ever? Not quite sure of that, but it’s really low. The media is saying that an election held today would effectively wipe Labor off the Federal map for at least a few terms. It probably wouldn’t be as bad as the Queensland election last year, but anyway…
The thing is, we’re still six months out from the election, and you don’t have to have been watching Aussie politics very long to know that that’s a long time for things to turn around. Add to that the error margin between opinion polls and actual election results (Liberal should have won in 2010, too, if you recall) and the picture’s far from disastrous.
The best thing the ALP can do right now is ignore the sensationalism surrounding the media and actually get behind Gillard – something that they seem to be doing. As it stands, I probably won’t vote Labor anyway in the next election – however I’m a lot more likely to with Julia Gillard leading the party than I would be to if it were Rudd.
I’ve been surprisingly quiet in the past few weeks on political topics, part of that has been because I’ve been working on the Bible Challenge series of blogs, but also, I go back to my article in the lead up to the state election entitled “Tired Politics”.
In the words of the great Jon Bon Jovi: It’s all the same, only the names have changed.
A few thoughts, though, as we come to a close in the campaign and actually enter the polls tomorrow.
First: Are Labor ever going to realise that they’re actually in government, not opposition? For the past three years, I’ve watched as they continue to attack the Liberal party as if they are still in opposition. They’ve spent more effort attacking the guys who aren’t even in government, than they have in governing the country. This election campaign has been no different, they’ve relied on the same tired lines as they carried before, they’ve relied on attacks more than promotion of policy, and they’ve, frankly, bored me.
No, Liberal’s not any better. In fact I think if I heard the stats right from the Gruen Nation this week, Liberal have actually done even less policy promotion than Labor. It’s ridiculous.
Tell me what you’re going to do FOR me, and the country – I can make up my own mind as to whether the other side are a bunch of idiots, traitors, dinosaurs or out of touch. Give me a reason to believe in you, not just a reason not to believe in the other guys.
I used to love politics, and part of me still does – what I’m well and truly over, are the two major parties playing the same old games year in and year out.
All politicians are going to be the same, to an extent, I don’t doubt that at all. What I think Australia needs to do, though, is awaken to the other parties that are around. Today, I’d be ready to give my vote to the Australian Sex Party in a higher preference than either Liberal or Labor.
Tony Abbott might be a conservative, out of touch dinosaur – but on a party level, sorry, that’s both Liberal and Labor. Neither of them give a damn about the people any more, it’s all about the votes and the power. It’s high time that we actually saw some people in our Parliaments – both at a state and federal level – who want to bring politics back to the people.
It’s a hard road, but I believe that it is possible to restore faith in our politicians.
What we need, though, is new blood – both on an individual and party level. We’re not ready to actually get rid of the big two just yet, but it is time we gave them a bit of a scare and showed that the people of Australia aren’t idiots either, and the people of Australia are ready to see real change, real action, real people – and a real fair go.
I’ll be striking my vote tomorrow to see a fair go, to see reason and fairness returned to Australian Parliament – because (I’m going to get shot for saying this) Australia deserves better!