Gilly’s Values

There’s an interesting sidebox in an article on the Labor leadership race in today’s Sunday Mail where Julia Gillard discusses her intention not to have children and her single status:

Julia Gillard believes she can lead Australia as a single, childless woman. The Opposition health spokeswoman, who is expected to declare her Labor leadership ambitions tomorrow, cited US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as her inspiration. “Dr Rice is a single, childless black woman and she is the most powerful woman in the world,” she said. Ms Gillard, 43, revealed that she did not plan to have children and defended her unmarried status. She vowed to ignore any calls on her to get married if she became Labor leader. “In public life, you’ve got to have a real sense of who you are as a person,” she said.

In this, Julia is no different from many other Australian professional women, but no doubt she will be pilloried for it. More’s the pity.

NOTE: Check out the photo of Ruddy in the story – he seems to be seeking support from someone who’s not currently a member of Caucus. We’ll find out tomorrow whether he’s in the race. If he doesn’t enter, I suspect it will have more to do with factional and union pressure than the numbers. It would be a real pity if the Beazer were to be unopposed, given the many legitimate question marks over his leadership.

ELSEWHERE: The Sunday Mail, God bless its Murdoch heart, is running a bit of a parochial banana bender campaign for Ruddy. Witness this profile. Turns out Ruddy is from a battler background. I thought personal narratives were out of style now? Anyone remember the “boy from Green Valley”?

UPDATE: I was right in my suspicion about the pressure on Ruddy. The Queensland AWU has bound its members to support Beazley. Michelle Grattan captures Ruddy’s dilemma: if he doesn’t run, he looks wimpy. If he does, the Right extracts revenge later. Charming, isn’t it? So that’s what they call unity…

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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17 Responses to Gilly’s Values

  1. Andrew Norton says:

    “In this, Julia is no different from many other Australian professional women, but no doubt she will be pilloried for it. More’s the pity.”

    Mark – You know this, and still you have been barracking for her. You can’t change the world and win elections at the same time. Gillard’s Condi analogy doesn’t work; Rice’s constituency is only the US Senate and her boss. She doesn’t have to persuade people who know little about politics and so resort to analysis of personal characteristics, which they do (they think!) understand. Her grating voice won’t help win them over. Like Latham she is inexperienced. And the Liberals haven’t even started on her Socialist Left affiliation. In short, I think the fact that she is even being considered suggests that a significant section of the Labor caucus is seriously out-of-touch with political reality.

  2. Peter Kemp says:

    Andrew: I agree that Gilly is inexperienced, has ”a grating voice” and carries a modicum of baggage but I think that the point is, like Margaret Thatcher, (previously a very junior minister I might add) she appears to have much larger gonads than most ALP members especially the Beazer.

    Perhaps like Rudd, Gilly faces the dilemma of not running and appearing a wimp or running and facing factional revenge. Even lightweights such as Billy Sneddon had a go against Hasluck and Gorton and when they all fell over became leader of the opposition in Gough’s time by default. Although Sneddon never became a heavyweight, potential leaders can test their support and I think Gilly should stand and put her party on notice. Her performances against Abbott alone justify her claim to stand.

    I think it fair to say that generational change is always risky but it has to be contemplated, the pity being that the Latham event may have queered the pitch.

    Compared to other lightweights/liberal leaders such as Peacock and Downer, it is rare indeed to see such raw talent as Gilly and Rudd contesting the leadership.

  3. Peter Kemp says:

    I should have said ”if they both contest the leadership”

  4. As a married empty-nester I have zero problem with it.

  5. Mark Bahnisch says:

    Peter’s analysis is right – they should both run. Who knows what will happen in the next three years?

    Andrew – maybe so, but why is it so important? Arguably an unmarried childless person can devote more intensity to the job. Most pollies – bar Latho – have kept their kids out of the public eye (ie Beattie, Keating). Hence the irony with Latho’s demands for privacy, when he made so much of being a father and a husband.

    Jim Soorley was a very good Mayor of Brisbane despite being an unmarried former priest with a defacto partner who had her own kids. The Libs would periodically spread rumours that he was gay, but he still won two elections with nigh on 60% of the vote.

    I just don’t see that someone’s family life (or “values”) is at all a relevant criterion when deciding whether or not to vote for them.

  6. Rex says:

    I think people are forgetting other powerful women who are childless, unmarried or both.

    Elizabeth 1, springs to mind as a (still) extremely popular Queen, who really established Britain as a naval power, and played politics with the best of them, its true, she wasn’t voted in by the people, but who was?

    Helen Clark (NZ PM) although married, is childless, she’s been you’s have to admit, a pretty domineering figure in NZ politics.

    Margaret Thatcher, was married, and had a son who turned out to be such an idiot that being childless would have been more advantgeous not less.

    No, Gillard view on marriage and children might be a handicap, but in no way is it unsurmountable.

  7. Mark Bahnisch says:

    Helen Clark’s a good example in a very comparable society, Rex.

    I’d have thought also that (notwithstanding Romanian precedents), at 43 Julia Gillard’s a bit old to have kids.

  8. Andrew Norton says:

    Mark – There may be some longer term tactical sense in Gillard running now, in that it will start the process of people getting to know who she is (I have seen her in public places; she can move through them anonymously as only political junkies could connect the name and the face). But at this point she is even less well-known than Latham was in late 2003, and a much less interesting and appealing figure. As a Liberal naturally I hope they choose her; as an observer I think they would be mad to do it.

  9. Mark Bahnisch says:

    Andrew, given Jason’s comments on a previous thread that Julia is “hot”, perhaps a wedding could be in the offing after all? Might solve this issue if it is one…

  10. David Tiley says:

    All of the examples you quote are publically shacked up in a heterosexual mannner. I take Andrew’s point about Condi not being a choice of the people – although in her own head she seems to have phantom “husband”.

    I don’t think electability should be the first criterion in the thinking process, although it is in there as a factor. The party should be open to possibility.

    I wonder how many ALP people are thinking of a two-step strategy. Beezer for now and see what happens; if he doesn’t make a dent – and he won’t unless the Libs implode all by their little selves – then give Kevin a run from two years out.

    If so, that is a recipe for further instability.

  11. Zoe says:

    David, Christian Kerr at Crikey talked about the back up option option. His line was that if you were going to run a risky one, you run them first.

    I’m becoming an “ABBA” – anyone but Beazley again

  12. Darlene says:

    Saw that bit in The Sunday-Mail, as well as a letter some tosser wrote to The Australian saying to something to the effect that Gillard shouldn’t get a go because a PM needs to have been married and had babies to understand the concerns of ordinary Aussies.

    Excuse my language, but bollocks.

    A person’s marital status is utterly irrelevant to their capacity to do any job unless they are in a husband and wife country music duo.

  13. Stephen Hill says:

    “A person’s marital status is utterly irrelevant to their capacity to do any job unless they are in a husband and wife country music duo.”

    Darn that puts a stop to Labor’s dream ticket of drafting in “The Captain and Tennille”. And there are so many examples where this has worked so well. Sonny Bono for one, was such an inspiring legislator, making sure that estates could hold unto copyright for bloody ever and ever and ever.

  14. blank says:

    you may believe it is bollocks, Darlene, but that is not what matters.

    Come next election will a majority of voters in a majority of electorates agree with you?

  15. Darlene says:

    Blank, I don’t think Australians get overly excited about such things.

    They respect the person’s ability to do the job.

    Sure we are a pretty conservative bunch, but I think we have always had a strong sense of the public and the private.

    I couldn’t care less who my Member of Parliament (Arch Bevis) is cavorting with.

    This things only come up when it is a woman running, anway.

    Hey, I could be wrong. I once was.

  16. Polly says:

    I tend to agree with you about it only being an issue when it is a female politician.
    What male politician would have comments made about the state of his kitchen? Gee, I forgot it is his wife’s job to look after the kitchen.

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