Why I admire Prime Minister Gillard

Those of you who have no time for our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, had better read this. You might get an inkling of why some of us believe she is doing a sterling job of running this country. In the mainstream media, you are fed a continual diet of bad news, bad commentary, and bad opinion about our first female PM, and some of you may have seen or heard some of the vile material that circulates in the malignant blogosphere that is inhabited by the spiteful and the malevolent. In contrast, this piece paints a warm picture of an outstanding leader.

I admire Julia Gillard for six attributes she exhibits every day. Three are outlined here; another three will be covered in the next piece.

Even those of you who would disparage her would have to grant that she has unbounded courage. Even the Leader of the Opposition conceded to his Party Room that: “She won’t lie down and die – where there’s life there’s fight”, concluding: "Our job won't be over until the next election is won."

Courage is not just pressing on in the face of the most vitriolic opposition in recent history, in the face of the most venomous mainstream media assault in years, but also in the face of the most vile insults, accusations and innuendo that circulate endlessly in subterranean blogs, too often echoed in other parts of the media, as was recently the case in the Slater & Gordon matter.

Can any of you imagine how much guts it must take to get up every morning in the wake of blistering headlines in the tabloids and the broadsheets, ugly cartoons, demeaning comments about body shape, the misogyny, the photos of angry people waving ‘Ditch the Witch’ and ‘Bob Brown’s Bitch’ placards, the oft-repeated words of shock jocks about ‘dumping her in a hessian bag at sea’, calling her a liar and tagging her ‘Ju-liar’, and a commentator calling for her to be ‘kicked to death’?

Can you imagine how you could continue working at your job when journalist after journalist berates you, asserts that you can’t possibly win the next election, that you will take your party to a devastating electoral wipe out; when week after week columnists speculate about how many more weeks you can last as leader, about when the inevitable challenge from Kevin Rudd will come, about when you will be tapped on the shoulder if your poll figures don’t improve by this date or that? Can you really imagine that? How many people in this country could cope with that? How many?

So whatever you think about PM Gillard, whatever you feel about Julia Gillard the person, at least give her full marks for courage, for nerve, for guts, for resilience. Few politicians, indeed few people, have these attributes. Frankly, I want the leader of our nation to have them all in spades. Name any other leader that can match her.

And now in the face of her father’s unexpected death while she was attending the APEC meeting in Vladivostok, we see her courage once more. Alcyone wrote in a comment on The Political Sword: “…scrolling through the annals of history...you find a distinct correlation between indefatigable, inspiring, exemplary, fairness-loving, eloquent altruists and people of Welsh descent. What you love most in a dear parent you weave into your own way of being - they live on with you and are present in everything you do.” Those attributes personify our PM.

I admire PM Gillard’s enormous courage, resilience and determination – courage in the face of adversity and opposition not just from her political opponents, but also from a largely hostile mainstream media. Do you?

I can hear the Gillard-knockers laughing in derision. They do not want to acknowledge the comprehensive vision Julia Gillard has mapped out for this nation. If they can’t see it, they haven’t been watching.

Her vision is grounded in the long established Labor tenet of a fair go for everyone, opportunity for all of us to be the best that we can be.

How many times have you heard her talk of a ‘great education’ as the foundation of success in life? How many times have you heard her recount her own educational experience? How many times have you heard her attribute her success and her present position to that great education, beginning at Unley High, and fostered by her father? How many times have you heard her insist that education and skills training must be the foundation upon which our commerce, our industry and our productivity must be built? That’s vision.

You will remember her repeating over and again that no one should be left behind, that socio-economic disadvantage should not be a barrier, that disability should not hold anyone back from being the best they can be, and that we should lift up those who need a hand.

You have heard her say that there must be a social security net to catch the disadvantaged, to support the poor, to elevate the indigent, to give everyone the chance they deserve. That’s equity, that’s vision.

How often has she stressed that a strong, vibrant, productive and growing economy is essential if all of us are to prosper?

How many times does she have to say that she wants to spread the benefit of the mining boom, to even out the patchwork economy?

Do you remember her pointing out that our economic future lies in our region as we move into the Asian Century, and that the growing middle class in Asia offers countless opportunity for trade and selling our manufactured goods and services?

Have you heard her talk about the need to stem carbon pollution, reduce emissions, and contribute to the global effort to combat global warming that threatens life on our planet for future generations?

Have you heard her talk of the need to achieve consensus about the need to combat climate change? You will have heard her critics mocking her for some of her ideas to achieve this, yet we know that realizing this consensus remains a vital objective. Indeed it is lack of a consensus occasioned by the efforts of sceptics and deniers that remains a problem in this country that scarcely exists elsewhere.

Have you heard her talk of how essential it is to move our economy to a low carbon, clean energy one, built on renewable energy, to take advantage of a growing renewables industry?

If you haven’t heard these things, you haven’t been listening.

Have you heard PM Gillard stress the importance of a comprehensive, integrated health care system that provides timely and equitable access to wide-ranging health and dental and mental and aged care, and disability insurance? That’s vision.

Have you heard our PM speak of the need for infrastructure development such as the NBN, the largest infrastructure project since the Snowy Mountains Scheme, and better ports, roads and rail. If you haven’t, you’ve been asleep.

Have you heard her say that we need a regional solution to the problem of accommodating those seeking asylum? No doubt some of you have mocked her foray into an East Timor solution, the lack of success of her Malaysia arrangement after it was rejected by the High Court, and will laugh at her capitulation in accepting processing on Nauru and Manus Island, but you have to give her credit for persisting in her efforts to achieve a regional solution, one that is still extant and looks like the long term answer to this vexed problem. Regional neighbours think so, as does the UNHCR.

Have you heard her talk of the importance of regional security, the need for a strong defence capability to ensure border protection, and the need to continue in Afghanistan until the transition to the Afghan National Army is complete? Do you remember her stressing the importance of the US alliance and the value of having US forces training in our North? Do you recall the White Paper on Defence that outlines the changes that are taking place in geopolitics, the rise of China and India and the development of our northern neighbours, and our strategic response to those changes?

If that is not vision, tell me what it is.

I admire her vision, vision that she has been spelling out now for the two years she has been PM, and even before.

Don’t come back here and tell us that Julia Gillard lacks vision, or to use a favourite media word, that she has not made clear her ‘narrative’, or that we don’t know ‘what she stands for’! That’s bunkum. Leave that to the likes of Paul Kelly, Peter van Onselen and their News Limited colleagues who love the word, who use the phrase. If you believe that, re-read the paragraphs above.

PM Gillard has vision for this nation in spades, and tells us what it is almost every day. Listen.

A focus on getting things done
Amid all the tumult of managing a minority government, the parliament has passed a record number of bills – at last count over 330.

These have included major reforms such as a price on carbon leading to an emissions trading scheme, a MRRT that taxes minerals super profits and redistributes the revenue to enable major tax reforms, changes to superannuation, company tax reform, and small business capital write-offs.

There has been legislation to enable paid parental leave, reforms to health care, dental care, disability insurance and plain packaging of cigarettes.

Thousands of computers have been placed in schools, the highly successful BER gave 6,500 schools new amenities; the National School curriculum, NAPLAN and the MySchool website all combine to give better oversight of the education system, and the Gonski recommendations are now being processed to lift school performance up another notch to achieve ranking in the top five counties. Skills training in TAFE and schools has received a boost, contributing as it does to the productivity needed to make our country competitive.

The much-maligned Home Insulation Program still managed to insulate a million ceilings, with the attendant savings in energy and costs to householders. The efforts to stem the tide of boat arrivals and avoid the drownings too often associated with them, have not met with the success they deserved, but the effort put into this vexed issue has been enormous. While great effort has been made to curb problem gambling, success has been elusive. A trial may point to the best way forward. Necessary changes to the live cattle export industry have been difficult, but are now in place.

There are many other legislative moves that have been made, some mundane, but many of great importance. Those listed though give a vivid picture of the level of endeavour that has been put into creating a better future for as all. What’s more, virtually every move has been made in the face of trenchant opposition – from the Coalition, sometimes from the Greens, from business lobbies opposed to an ETS, from the minerals industry angry about the MMRT, from the pokies industry fighting pokie reform, from a host of rent-seekers, lobbyists, interest groups, all more concerned about their own interest than the national interest.

It is not as if passing over 300 pieces of legislation has been a cakewalk. It has been tough at every turn, resisted at every step, often opposed simply for the cussed sake of opposing. Yet Julia Gillard and her ministers and caucus have pressed on, fighting tooth and nail for what they considered to be in the best interests of our nation.

Her father taught her that to achieve you must work hard, and work hard she does.

PM Gillard has a focus on getting things done. How many times have you heard her say: ‘Let’s get this done’? And she does get it done, even when the resistance is strongest. She simply won’t lie down and die! I admire her for that attitude, one that all determined and successful people have.

I give her full marks for courage, vision, and her focus on getting things done. I also her admire her competence, her personality and her integrity. These three attributes will be covered in the next piece: More reasons why I admire PM Gillard.

I believe we are most fortunate to have a leader of her calibre to guide our nation to what looks like a glowing and prosperous future.

What do you think?