It’s been a long week for Julia Gillard and we hope she takes a well-earned break over the weekend.

Kevin Rudd, addressing the media as Crikey hit deadline, just told everyone to “just chill” for a while — not bad advice. He’s explaining why he’s not revealing his new cabinet yet (it will be sworn in on Monday), and he’s telling us that “I want to make some policy changes” — without telling us what they are. He insisted he’s learnt his lesson on cabinet consultation.

We’d like to step aside from Rudd and the craziness of this big week in politics to ponder: how will history remember Australia’s first female prime minister? What will you tell your great-grandchildren about her tenure?

Gillard’s government passed a lot of legislation — The Guardian calculates she passed the highest rate of passing legislation (acts per day) of any Australian PM (and in a minority situation to boot). There were major reforms on climate change, increasing the age pension, and disability and education funding. And Gillard showed women everywhere that they could land the top job.

There were failures, too. Gillard struggled for consistency on climate policy, and struggled to implement and explain a functional policy on asylum seekers. Her tenure was overshadowed by the manner in which she assumed the top job, and she found it hard to communicate a vision to voters.

The verdict, then? Gillard’s reputation probably reached its nadir just before she was deposed. From now on, it will be progressively rehabilitated, and she will come to be remembered for making history, for standing firm in the face of disgracefully s-xist flack which will hopefully seem archaic to future generations, and for the significant reforms she implemented.

In 10 years’ time we might wonder what all the fuss was about.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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