I can remember as a child in Australia, wondering why the Prime Minister was always some old, boring man. I thought maybe women somehow were not allowed into the position until I discussed it with my parents. When I discovered it was just because no one had voted one in yet, I was shocked. I was also slightly excited by the possibility that maybe I could one day be the first female PM. As time went on, I began to realize that I didn’t really have the personality to become a politician. I am simply too selfish and out-spoken. I also realized that it would take many decades for me to even reach the age where it might be possible and I reached the conclusion that Australia couldn’t wait that long for a female PM.
So, it was with great excitement on June 24, 2010 that I learned Julia Gillard had taken up the role of Australia’s first female PM. While Gillard may not be the cultured and eloquent person that Rudd is, she is presentable, intelligent, and seems to want to get things done. Her promptness on sorting out the mining issue illustrates this fact. As a role model for women I would definitely say she has not followed the traditional path of women or even politicians. She is atheist, is unmarried, and has no children. She has been with her partner Tim Mathieson for four years and a wedding does not appear to be in the near future.
While I am happy to see a female in this role, I was not particularly impressed to see how she got there. The Labor Party’s ousting of their leader Kevin Rudd could easily be described as a bloodless coup. It was almost painful to watch Rudd’s tearful farewell.
Indeed, even though Rudd made mistakes in his short term, he was the legitimate leader of the Labor Party when Australia elected them to power. This is one thing on which I believe the US has got it right. The leader of your nation should be elected by the people and not their party. This recent ousting has illustrated the danger of this policy, with closed door dealings and self interested parties forcing their leader out. A leader should not be treated in such a way.
I only wonder now if the Labor Party’s image has not been so tarnished that the Australian people will throw out their first female PM. This would seriously diminish the legitimacy of the claim and Gillard would go down as the ‘kind’ of ‘sort’ of first female PM. With an election planned for later this year, we will see if Australia is ready to vote for a woman to lead their country. More over, a non-religious, unmarried, and childless woman.