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Gillard’s acceptance speech was very great but it didn’t feel historic. She was definitely Prime Ministerial, she showed poise and toughness – especially in handling the press. One could really sense that she was channelling CJ Cregg, the best press secretary (whether real or fictional) the US has ever had.

But at the same time, listening to her speech I didn’t feel her channeling Martin Luther King. There was no sense of history, of Australia once again leading the way in the gender fight with the first female Australian prime minister. In fact, when asked how she felt about being her historic role, she gave quite a muted reply. And much of her speech gave the impression of an inexorable attempt to cover every major policy area – Industrial Relations, global warming, economics. And whilst she attempted to define herself in this first speech – as someone who cares about people who work hard – the language was just so generic that didn’t shine out.

Nor did the substance of her speech glitter. But I think it bears out my prediction. She (more or less) stuck to the policies of the Rudd government of which she was a part. In terms of substance, there was little in the way of difference except in emphasis. She will be more aggressive in pushing the climate change argument, but essentially the underlying policies remain the same. The great difference was in style. There will be a shift in internal government function to a more consultative approach with both Cabinet and factions, but more importantly a shift in consultation with industry when formulating policy. And – as I predicted – she shifted stance on the RSPT, but without sacrificing revenue.

Even though in substance, her policy is the same, this is a major paradigm shift in how people will view the policy. I think because the government’s policies are quite strong at their core, all they ever needed was tweaking around the edges anyway.

Whilst Gillard’s speech was great, but not excellent, Tony Abbott’s first press conference was downright shocking – and I say this as someone who considered voting for him. The consensus around these things is that you can’t be too vigorous in attacking female politicians because it looks badly. Some people say that Abbott has a ‘woman problem’, others don’t. I’m in the latter camp – there’s little evidence in the polls to suggest his vote suffers amongst women (at least not to a greater extent than Coalition politicians generally). But surely the very least you can do is show grace at her election – either because she won a leadership ballot, or because she won a leadership ballot as Australia’s first female Prime Minister.

If that is indicative of Abbott’s approach in this election, Gillard may even pick up seats at the next election. But even if I’m wrong, I am absolutely certain about this next prediction – this will be a fun election to watch. Gillard v Abbott. haha


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