Crikey Says

Oct 10, 2012

Crikey says: why Gillard both won and lost yesterday

Julia Gillard won hearts and lost the debate yesterday: Susan Mitchell and Bernard Keane on how. The polls in the US are turning for Mitt Romney. We explain how big polluters are winning under the RET. And why texting is a very serious business for kids (as well as Peter Slipper).

It was the best of speeches, it was the worst of speeches, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. Such was the Dickensian day in federal Parliament yesterday, where two grand narratives competed for our attention. The first narrative was arguably a win for Julia Gillard -- and for women in politics. Gillard delivered a stinging attack on Tony Abbott over misogyny in politics. She spoke passionately and with authority. She spoke her mind in a way she has not done on this subject before. Abbott squirmed. The world listened. Coming as it does in the wake of months of debate on women in politics, this speech may prove to be a step change in Australian politics. Have we finally been forced to normalise and accept a woman at the top? Will we be less tolerant of s-xism in the future? The second narrative was a loss for Gillard. She offered this speech in the context of defending a man for gross s-xism -- for texting the kind of comment many women would slap a man in the face for. Even Peter Slipper recognised he could not go on as speaker. What a waste of breath and scarce political capital the 11-month Slipper farce has been for Labor. Gillard's decision to court Slipper has been shown up for what it was: stupidity, unnecessary risk and poor judgment. The latter is Gillard's Achilles heel. Good policies are a great start, but poor political judgment is hard to overcome. So it was indeed the best of speeches on the worst of days, as history waits to judge this country's first female Prime Minister. Whether she can avoid a Dickensian end to her political narrative remains to be seen.

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

8 thoughts on “Crikey says: why Gillard both won and lost yesterday

  1. RoseL

    You just can’t help yourselves, can you? I didn’t notice where she defended Slipper and besides, what man hasn’t used the seafood comparison in private with other men? As a woman, I don’t find it offensive and have been known to make derogatory remarks about a certain part of the male anatomy with other women in private. Can’t we differentiate between public and private?

  2. Mitchell Brian

    Your editorial falls into the Coalition’s “see, we told you” narrative, without examining the Coalition’s own role in Slipper’s downfall.
    Slipper fell because his (deplorable) private texts became public.
    Why did his texts become public? Because they were evidence in a sexual harassment case lodged against him by a former staff member, who at the time of his employment with Slipper was meeting secretly with Slipper’s political enemies in the LNP.
    The merits of the sexual harassment case itself are yet to be judged by the court.
    Without the staffing problem, Slipper would still be Speaker and, it has been universally acknowledged, he was a good one.
    His downfall looks to all intents and purposes to have been manufactured by his political enemies: It was not all down to his own behaviour, as we’re being led to believe.
    Sure, he provided plenty of ammo, but I wonder just how many MPs and Senators would be comfortable publicising the contents of their private communications with staff? If this is to be the new standard of public propriety, let them all be judged by the same standard.

  3. Sean Cornell

    A desperate speech full of misdirection by a PM who seemingly can’t admit she was wrong to put Slipper into the Speakers chair.

    And for Slipper to resign only hours later highlights this perfectly.

  4. The Pav

    Perhaps Gillards error in jus=dgement was to assume that a Liberal party member in good standing and given glowing references and support of the Leader of the opposition was a person of character.

    Apparently not it would seem which reflects poorly on the quality of the Liberal party ( somewhat supported Jone’s comments at am official and public Liberal party function)

    Yet again we are being asked which is more important

    The ability to be a good govt and put policy in place or be able to be a good spinner of public opinion.

    Well Howard certainly managed the latter and thus is rated a succesful “politician” and look at the policy cost ( or rather lack of policy cost) and the huge infrastructure deficiency and locked in middle class welfare that will cause unending budget problems

    I think if the choice is between a good PM or a good politician then I’ll take the former over the latter.

    Pity we don’t have a mature enough commentariat who make that distinction but are to happy to follow the glib two Seceond Tony sound bite politics and not expose it for the shallowness that it is

  5. form1planet

    I’m no apologist for misogynists, but from what I can tell, the Slipper texts everyone is so shocked (shocked!) about are basically just crass, rather than particularly sexist or evil. Aren’t they? I am a card-carrying feminist, I am seriously concerned about many real issues that diminish women’s health and wellbeing, but I really couldn’t care less if someone uses vulgar names for genitalia or a misspelled term of abuse in their private text messages. And I certainly wouldn’t slap a man in the face for using a bad metaphor.

  6. Mark from Melbourne

    Please look up definition of sexist.The texts between Ashby and Slipper were crude, possibly ugly but do not even come close to sexist in definition, let alone “gross sexism”. And they were private.

    Please make sure you at least try and get some of the context right before joining dots…

  7. Gerry Hatrick, OAP

    And clearly a scrotum is a misshapen collection of lost elbow skin, with enough fluff around it to make a sea anemone jealous. I had to go to Limited News to find out what this DISGUSTING and HORRIFIC comparison actually was.

  8. AR

    Crass, ignorant, mysoginist (but NOT sexist) as the twits were, they were private between consenting, not too mention compicit, adults. Deplorable but deplorably common amongst the sexually insecure. Hanging offence possibly but that is just my personal proclitivity, I’d insitute it for

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details