Posted by: Bin VFA | October 28, 2012

Julia Gillard

So this is it. The speech that has had more the 2 million views from around the world. The speech that got people talking about what heads of government in other countries could learn from our Prime Minister. For myself, I have listened twice now and both times I have gotten chills. It has brought tears to my eyes. In a good way. Watch it for yourself if you haven’t already:

Unfortunately though, one speech, however awesome and necessary and well directed it is, cannot make up for all the other problems I have with Ms Gillard and her leadership. It’s rather ironic that on the very same day that she gave a speech that got everyone talking, finally, about the sexism and misogyny that is rampant in politics and elsewhere, her government passed legislation to make things harder for single parents, primarily mothers. That’s just for starters.

Back in August I wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, expressing my dissatisfaction in her stance on marriage equality and asylum seeker policy. They are certainly not the only issues and not necessarily the most important but they are both issues that I feel passionately about. Well I did get a response in the mail the other day and while I was not surprised at the non-answer I received I was still disappointed. It’s probably the eternal optimist in me but there was still a glimmer of hope there that she would actually read the content of my letter rather than figuring out which issues it related to and then giving me the standard party line on each of the issues. I do intend to follow up with further correspondence even though the result is unlikely to get any further. Why would I do that? Well, you know, that whole eternal optimist thing, remember? I remember when she was ‘just’ the local member and the hope I felt when she became Prime Minister. In the above question time video, we got a glimpse of that person that I hoped she would be. Unfortunately mostly we just have a Prime Minister who has done so much wheeling and dealing and compromising to hold on to her admittedly tenuous position, that I’m not even sure that she knows what she stands for any more.

As an atheist, a feminist and a woman who has chosen to live in de facto relationships rather than getting married and who has chosen to remain childless, one would think that Ms Gillard would be supportive of marriage equality, against having religious instruction and chaplains in public schools and certainly not pander to such an extreme, unrepresentative Christian organisation as the Australian Christian Lobby. But one would be wrong on all counts. Admittedly in the end she did pull out from making a speech at the ACL’s annual conference when Jim Wallace took his bigotry just that one step too far. The question is though, why did it take that to make the difference? Why were all his previous comments not sufficient that the offer was never taken up in the first place? Why did she give this interview with Jim Wallace soon after she took the top job in 2010 and why did she talk in that interview as though ‘Christian values’ is actually a phrase that means something positive or worthwhile. Of course the answer is likely just that she is a politician and as such was playing to her audience. But the fact remains that the ACL is not representative of Christians in Australia and the media and politicians alike need to stop acting like they are.

Nothing has changed in the policies I have already mentioned in previous posts about asylum seekers. It’s just that now there are several hundred people on Nauru and Manus Island is about to open up. It seems there are hunger strikes occurring on Nauru already as well as several suicide attempts. To keep up with breaking news and useful facts on this situation I recommend following the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s twitter feed (where I obtained the preceding facts). The mainstream media certainly aren’t providing any kind of accurate or useful information. Another good resource is Amnesty International and some relevant facts about the situation are explained on their Australian site here.

Of course there is more and it’s not all bad. I personally am really pleased at the carbon price that the government has introduced with strong influence from the Australian Greens, a political party that I do support in most areas to be honest. However, that coal stations that were marked for closure are no longer to be closed does somewhat negate the positive environmental benefits of the carbon tax. Australia also now has a seat on the United Nations Security Council which is no small achievement.

Also, none of the other stuff negates the fact that the speech above really was awesome. It was very much needed and will be remembered for years to come. It has already changed the conversation and hopefully this will continue.

~ B


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