An Essay On Australian Political History
Write an essay (1,500 words) to respond:
Use an example (or examples) from any period from 1970 to 2021 in Australian political history to show some factors that distinguish effective political leadership - remembering to include consideration for Indigenous perspectives, even if this was not a prominent consideration at the time. Your choice could be a person, a political party or a political movement such as environmental, gender equality or Indigenous self-determination.
Australia has always maintained a stable, peaceful, liberal, and democratic political system as per its constitution. Different factors have shaped the political history of the country, for example, the gender roles, indigenous and non-indigenous considerations, equality, self-determination, media representation, and so forth. The remarkable event of Julia Gillard, becoming the first female prime minister of Australia in 2010 has been considered for discussion because it is a noteworthy event in the political history of Australia, which has revolutionised political roles across genders. The purpose of the considered paper is to shed light on Australian political history and remarkable events in context to the factors mentioned above.
Julia Gillard has been elected as 27th Prime Minister of Australia and the first women Prime Minister of the country. She, from the opposition, has always raised her voice for women empowerment and rights, mental health and education, and after gaining the seat of PM, she has worked for the same. In post-politics advocacy, Julia Gillard has always focused on education and gender (Slawson, 2018). Gillard has also faced accusations for disloyalty which smashed the historical and political significance of her victory, as well as the title of ‘first woman Prime Minister’. After the federal election of 2010, the Prime Minister was to work with the minority government. She dealt with the government representatives efficiently with her spectacular negotiation skills. The Prime Minister has brought revolutionary changes in Australian politics by working on educational equality, empowering women, empowering disabled persons, protecting the environment, and supporting children. The key achievements of Julia Gillard involve 570 bills, programs to avoid child abuse, disability insurance schemes, education funding, carbon price and also paid parental leave. For women, she has promoted equality in education and supported motherhood by approving schemes such as maternal leaves and reducing violence, which was the highlight of her leadership decisions (Butter, 2020). The wide association with the political values she made a hosiery by saying sorry to the indigenous Australians and was an advocate for providing an equaled political space to all by welcoming all rage and gender. the first women prime minister urged Australia’s upper house to pass Labor- backed “Malaysia Elution bill”. It was as as per the refugees known as boat people that legally bounded the government to provide access for asylum seekers. It is worth noting that many of her policies were failures, for which she had to encounter tremendous criticism. For example, the government led by Gillard introduced the JobSeeker Payment system, which diminished staff’s payments by $60-$100 per week, which disproportionately affected the women community. She was criticised by the refugee advocates and LGBTIQ+ community. The misogyny speech revolutionised the approach sexism and politics were discussed (Slawson, 2018). She spent most of her time speaking about gender equality and celebrated the Women of the World Festival to support women empowerment (Butter, 2020). Being a women she is having a strong personality and presentable apprearance. She believes that gender stereotyping adversely impacts each and every woman, regardless of the status of the woman. She was also criticised, questioned regarding her gender roles, commented against her attire, tone of voice, hair cut and gesture. Though she did not give up, instead, she dealt with the criticism and broke the glass ceiling by rising above the gender-specific criticism. She considered 'sexism' a reaction of opposition for being the very first-ever prime minister. She focused on the issues in the society, the environment, and people to rise above criticisms. The use of the strong man leadership style was adopted by the Gillard. This has allowed her to fight against all odds and criticism and take strong decision for the welfare of the country (The Guardian, 2013).
During her leadership time, Gillard has passed and implemented some of the crucial legislation, such as the clean energy act, NBN, plain packaging, etc. However, there is some other legislation, which was implemented with goodwill but drew adverse impact. For example, the Prime minister forced the Australian mothers to adopt. A number of unwanted mothers were forced by the government policies to give up their child for adoption, and refrained from the love and belongingness of the mother-child relationship (The Guardian, 2013). Her leadership brought revolutionary changes in terms of supporting the disabled person, which has not been done by any of the ruling parties of Australia before, to this extent. As per the scheme, more than 400,000 disabled Australians were to be supported, buying wheelchairs, home modification, speech pathology and physiotherapy, and other necessary support services to the disabled (Griffiths, 2013). She even led the race for minorities. Even if the prime minister has worked for women, and other vulnerable communities, such as the disabled, the media has highlighted gender-specific reporting, focusing on her outfit and physical appearance. The columnist at Australian Financial Review shed light on her attire and appearance and claimed that it is inappropriate for the prime minister to show cleavage in the parliament. The height of her bottom, dressing has always been on focus and criticised as unprofessional (Lion, 2013). It has also been criticised that the way Gillard dresses is disrespectful to a prime minister's position and to the parliament and the Australian community. She has also been alleged to breach the code of conduct and professionalism as a leader.
The interview with Gillard published in the Harvard Business Review depicts that Rudd won the leadership against Gillard, focusing on the advocacy of education, gender equity, and mental health of people. She has always raised her voice for the right, and hence, as a leader, she has always favored and supported the wellbeing of people (Life's Work: An Interview with Julia Gillard, 2019). Even if the path was difficult, she has stayed strong in her values, and raised her voice.
As per the struggle of existence, Kevin Rudd, though being a successful leader, failed to bring revolutionary change due to the inability to raise their voice, deal with the adversities and face the Senate. Gillard took the reins from Rudd by taking the issues and her proposals through the Senate. Thereby, she also changed the political environment and movement for the minorities. As per the report published in The Wall Street Journal, the botched attempt of unseating the Prime Minister Gillard from the leadership of the Labor party exposed the rift and tension between the power base in the top ranks of the party as well as the disenchanted voters preferring her predecessor (Curran, 2021). The unsuccessful bid by the Labor party dissident to establish and reinstall the older leader Kevin Rudd, who just lost the power struggle to the PM Gillard, played into the hands of the prime opposition Liberal-National coalition, which was led by Tony Abbott. It is considered as the clash that has engulfed her extensively unpopular administration in the form of the civil war. The tension between the top leaders is very prominent in the Labor party.
The power struggle between Rudd and Gillard was prominent, and each of them looked for the opportunity to beat each other at every point. Chubb, (2014) states Rudd government lost his way in the UN climate summit at Copenhagen, in 2009, due to the futile climate policy. The representatives of the party were embarrassed and shocked for Rudd. In the very moment, Gillard took a step ahead, and joined the work on whiteboard. Gillard, along with Swan opposed the direct action options of Rudd, and took control of the government’s decision making. Gillard communicated the purpose of the Labor party to the followers and members, and changed the working principles and decisions on the environmental issues, to gain the clutch of the party from Rudd. The former prime minister, Kevin Rudd has challenged Julia Gillard for the leadership of the Labor party, and a bitter power struggle arose. Rudd claimed that Gillard had lost the trust of the public, and if there is no change in the leadership, the party is likely to lose the election in 2013. In contrast, in the press conference, Gillard had claimed that Rudd ran a chaotic and dysfunctional government when he was on the seat. Rudd is accused of destabilising the government and does not answer the questions. Rudd has challenged for vanity. The tension between the members of the same party is likely to divide the party into different groups and harm the unity of the party (Rourke, 2012). Therefore, the power struggle and conflict between these top-rank politicians and leaders are likely to wipe out the party from an entire generation. When Rudd won, the challenge between Rudd and Gillard came to an end, to the interminable speculation, regarding the Labor party leadership that dogged Gillard's leadership since she and her supporters supported Rudd's removal from the office. Rudd took revenge by dumping Gillard. As per Pach, (2021) Rudd faced challenges in credibly contest the election, and uniting the party and also ends up the public acrimony.
The Labor party, as a result of the political tension, and reduced public trust has to explain the voters the reason behind the tension and influence them to vote for the suitable candidate. The Labor party holds the assets, and the government, under Rudd and Gillard’s leadership has gained campaigning skills. However, due to the power struggle and power shifts and tension between the top ranked members, the party was extensively on a verge of reformation and restructuring.
Butter, S. (2020). Julia Gillard: 'It's important to show that women can hold their own. Retrieved 17 October 2021, from https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/julia-gillard-interview-a4380796.html
Chubb, P., (2014). The day the Rudd government lost its way on climate change. (2021). Retrieved 17 October 2021, from https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/the-day-the-rudd-government-lost-its-way-on-climate-change-20140509-zr7fm.html
Curran, E. (2021). Australian Premier Wins Party Power Struggle. Retrieved 17 October 2021, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324103504578373514152076972
Griffiths, E., (2013). Gillard brought to tears while introducing disability legislation. Retrieved 17 October 2021, from https://www.abc.net.au/news/specials/budget-2013/2013-05-15/gillard-cries-while-introducing-disability-legislation/4690692
Life’s Work: An Interview with Julia Gillard. (2019). Retrieved 17 October 2021, from https://hbr.org/2019/11/lifes-work-an-interview-with-julia-gillard
Lion, P., (2013). PM accused of ‘showing cleavage’. Retrieved 17 October 2021, from https://www.news.com.au/national/prime-minister-julia-gillard-accused-of-8216showing-cleavage8217-in-parliament/news-story/fb5405a16de49458bf694f65cb7bfb00
Pach, J. (2021). Australian PM Julia Gillard Ousted, Kevin Rudd Back. Retrieved 17 October 2021, from https://thediplomat.com/2013/06/australian-pm-julia-gillard-ousted-kevin-rudd-back/
Rourke, A., (2012). Kevin Rudd challenges Julia Gillard for leadership of Australia. Political history Retrieved 17 October 2021, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/feb/24/kevin-rudd-challenge-julia-gillard-australian-leadership
Slawson, N., (2018). Julia Gillard warns of backlash from gender equality critics. (2018). Retrieved 17 October 2021, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/05/julia-gillard-warns-of-backlash-from-gender-equality-critics
The Guardian (2013). Julia Gillard apologises to Australian mothers for forced adoptions. Retrieved 17 October 2021, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/21/julia-gillard-apologises-forced-adoptions