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Julia Gillard

Analysis and Comment (191)

It’s not yet clear how the Coalition will weigh health issues against economic priorities. jdwfoto/Shutterstock

Coalition’s policy bodes ill for health in free trade negotiations

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…
Julia Gillard’s My Story is about defending her legacy, but she is not blind to the faults of the Labor Party nor to her own mistakes. AAP/Dean Lewins

Book review: Gillard’s My Story, a defence of her prime ministership

Julia Gillard’s autobiography, My Story, presents a comprehensive defence of her prime ministership. Gillard dives straight into the heart of her story, beginning on the day she was sworn in as prime minister…
Even before it was born, the carbon price had plenty of friends – and lots of enemies. Shutterstock

Obituary: Australia’s carbon price

The Carbon Pricing Mechanism, known to its friends as the carbon price and its critics as the carbon tax, passed away today in Canberra, aged two, after a long battle with slogans. While it won praise…
Bob Carr ‘obviously revelled being back in the middle of the action’ in his 18 months as foreign minister, says former Labor foreign minister Gareth Evans. AAP/Alan Porritt

Gareth Evans: ‘Bob learned early self-deprecation is for dummies’

Bob Carr took on the job of Australian foreign minister believing, as he doesn’t hesitate to tell us in his Diary of a Foreign Minister, that it was highly unlikely that he would be there for very long…
Labor is bleeding votes both to the right and to the left. Is this because of its struggle to ‘brand’ itself in today’s political landscape? AAP/Daniel Munoz

Dysfunctional brand at the core of Labor’s current crisis

In the wake of the ALP’s poor result in the recent Western Australia Senate election, The Conversation is publishing a series of articles looking at the party’s brand, organisation and future prospects…
Governments in Australia appear to be voted out when they veer to far to the political Left or Right. Are we just a nation of centrists? AAP/Alan Porritt

Take a walk on the mild side: the attractions of the political centre

Ongoing reflections on the fall of the Rudd/Gillard Labor governments continue to feature suggestions about the impact of policy shifts to the Left, especially under Gillard (possibly influenced by her…
Kevin Rudd leaves parliament with his future as uncertain as his legacy. AAP/Daniel Munoz

The Rudd legacy: we need to talk about Kevin … or do we?

Should we care about Kevin Rudd’s legacy? Will anyone care? Australian political historians gaze with envy at the United States, where past presidents are revered and books about the “founding fathers…
There is no better example of the debasement of Australian political discourse and process than that which has surrounded action on climate change. AAP/Alan Porritt

A values deficit, toxic politics, and the climate change debacle

We live in an age of unprecedented prosperity, in which the major influences have been secularism, materialism, utilitarianism, urbanisation, remoteness from nature, institutional failure (especially in…
Bill Shorten is reportedly reconsidering the Labor Party’s position on the question of a carbon tax, the latest chapter in Labor’s long history with climate change policy. AAP/Alan Porritt

From Hawke to Shorten: the ALP’s vexed history with the carbon tax

As the new leader of the Labor opposition, Bill Shorten has a number of issues to deal with that have been left over from the previous three years of Labor government. Working out Labor’s climate change…
Julia Gillard has returned to the public spotlight just months after she was deposed as prime minister, and will likely remain front-and-centre in public life. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Life after the prime ministership: a trek through history

Former prime minister Julia Gillard has returned to the spotlight after maintaining a dignified silence since her removal as Labor leader in June. Since the defeat of the federal Labor government, she…
ALP powerbroker Paul Howes has called on the party to enforce a binding vote to support same-sex marriage. But where does it fit in with the narrative of gay rights in Australia? AAP/Dave Hunt

Questions of conscience? The ALP, gay rights and same-sex marriage

Suddenly, it seems the Right faction of the Australian Labor Party has embraced gay causes - or as we now say, LGBTI ones. On the campaign trail for the party leadership, Bill Shorten floated the idea…
Six years of Labor government is now over. How will they be remembered? AAP/Dan Peled

Labor’s legacy: six years of … what exactly?

Political historians are likely to treat the Rudd and Gillard governments far more kindly than many contemporary commentators have - and certainly more kindly than the Murdoch press has. The passing of…
The Australian Coalition arrangement is set apart from coalitions elsewhere by its ongoing nature, even in opposition, and the fact that the parties go into elections with a common election platform. AAP

Minority government likely to continue after Saturday

Much has been made of the ‘unusual’ nature of the minority Labor government over the past three years and there has been a sense that Australia is better off without it; that we need a return to the stability…
Carbon pricing remains a hot political football that no political party is quite sure how best to handle. AAP/Alan Porritt

Is a referendum on the carbon tax political suicide for Labor?

In recent days, opposition leader Tony Abbott has more forcefully argued that, if successful in winning the Saturday poll, his new government would have the mandate to scrap the government’s carbon pricing…
Will the real Kevin Rudd please stand up? AAP/Lukas Coch

Sunrise Kevin and Egomaniacal Kevin: the two Rudds

There are two Kevin Rudds. One is the energetic ideas man, the promising new face of the Australian Labor Party who might just be the party’s saviour. “I’m Kevin, I’m from Queensland and I’m here to help…
The last few years in Australian politics have seen the rise of a new definition of ‘lying’. AAP/Lukas Coch

Redefining the lie: politics and porkies

Lie (v.) (1) To make a politically unpopular statement; (2) [retrospectively applied] To make a statement which appears inconsistent with a more recent statement, indicating that its maker has changed…
Kevin Rudd is fighting another election. Just like the other elections, this is the most important since the last one. AAP/Alan Porritt

Election 2013: the campaign that never ended

It’s an exquisitely portentous cliché, the one that is always trotted out at each Australian election: this is the most important election in a generation, or since World War Two, or the advent of television…
Kevin Rudd has been working hard to neutralise key policy issues - such as asylum seekers - before announcing the date for the federal election. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Tick, tick, tick … is Kevin Rudd setting the election timer?

It has been almost one month since Kevin Rudd returned to The Lodge. Rudd was charged with the responsibility of making Labor competitive in the upcoming election. But what do his actions since taking…
Kevin Rudd is back as prime minister. But can he change party rules to prevent leaders being ousted as he was in 2010? AAP/Dan Peled

Labor in vain: will the Rudd party reforms work?

Today, a specially convened meeting of the Labor caucus will decide on proposed changes to how the party selects its parliamentary leader. The politics of leadership in Australia have been described as…
In most of our workplaces and institutions there are subtle, cumulative, insidious judgements and responses that serve to reinforce the powerful status quo of leadership. Image sourced from www.shutterstock.com

Is this the end of the gender wars?

Accounts in the media over the past week explain, or rather rationalise, the downfall of our first female Prime Minister. One-time feminist warrior Eva Cox found that Julia Gillard failed to communicate…
The problem for Gillard has always been the ‘Rudd-factor’, and arguably her prime ministership never got off the ground. AAP/Alan Porritt

The leadership war is over - where to from here for the ALP?

Australia’s 43rd federal parliament has proven that politics is anything but boring. Capping off a day when the two independent kingmakers, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, announced that they would not…
How much of a role did the media play in the political demise of Julia Gillard as prime minister? AAP/Tony McDonough

Ethical lapses by journalists contributed to Gillard’s demise

An integral power of the media is that of portrayal: the act of determining how people, events, ideas and organisations are described to the public, and therefore how they are perceived by the public…
Is the decision to re-install Kevin Rudd as leader of the ALP and of the country an affront to Australian democracy? AAP/Alan Porritt

Once bitten, twice shy: Labor again betrays the Australian people

The decision by the Labor caucus to minimise the electoral damage in September and return Kevin Rudd to the party leadership was short-sighted and ultimately self-destructive. More importantly, it operated…
While she may look elsewhere, ultimately Julia Gillard has no-one to blame for her political demise but herself. AAP/Lukas Coch

The political tragedy of Julia Gillard

In the middle of the 2012 winter, an influential supporter of Julia Gillard laid out for me the intricacies of the Labor caucus’ power structures, the labour movement’s web of personal antagonisms and…
Sixties style - Mad Men characters Roger Sterling and Don Draper still show men how it’s done in business and politics. AAP

Men at the helm – mad, bad and dangerous to know

Labor may have “ditched the witch”, but does the ejection of Julia Gillard from her seat of power close the book on the debate about sexism that she championed and the role of women in leadership? Our…
Ultimately, it was Julia Gillard’s failure to find a ‘narrative’ to weave her policies together that cost her the Labor leadership to a more opportunistic Kevin Rudd. AAP/Alan Porritt

Rudd’s return marks the victory of opportunist politics

The morning Julia Gillard was deposed as Australia’s prime minister many of the British newspapers carried a picture of her knitting a present for the future heir to the British (and presumably) Australian…
Now that the Labor leadership issue has been resolved once and for all, the attention will soon turn to the opposition’s attempts to win government at the election. AAP/Alan Porritt

Back to the opposition: bring on the policies

With such unprecedented turmoil inside the Labor Party over leadership it is not surprising that we have all forgotten about the opposition. You know, the government-in-waiting, the other mob, the Coalition…
Now that he’s deposed Julia Gillard, what lies ahead for Kevin Rudd in the election campaign? Alan Porritt / AAP

Rudd brings Labor disaster relief, hopes of better

The federal Labor caucus has decided to put aside its disdain for former leader Kevin Rudd and return him to the Labor leadership. The reason for this is simple: with Julia Gillard as leader, Labor was…
Kevin Rudd is once again the Prime Minister of Australia. AAP/Alan Porritt

Rudd wins the game of thrones

Labor has finally made the decision it ought to have taken long ago, but the counter-revolution has been extremely bloody and there are bodies all over the place. Not only is there a new Prime Minister…
Kevin Rudd has returned as leader of the ALP three years and three days after he was deposed by Julia Gillard. AAP/Alan Porritt

Kevin Rudd defeats Julia Gillard: expert reaction

Kevin Rudd has completed one the great political comebacks in Australian history by reclaiming the prime ministership from Julia Gillard in a party room vote in Canberra tonight, 57 votes to 45. Earlier…
Now that the curtain has come down on Julia Gillard’s prime ministership, it should be asked: was she truly a female prime minister or a prime minister who was female? AAP/Alan Porritt

Was Julia Gillard a ‘real’ female prime minister, or a leader who was female?

By the time the sun set over Parliament House, and took Julia Gillard’s prime ministership with it in a party room vote, the dissection of her legacy as Australia’s first female prime minister had already…
Kevin Rudd returns to be Prime Minister, but where did the Gillard government go wrong? Lukas Coch / AAP

Rudd returns, but where did it go so wrong for Gillard?

Kevin Rudd has made a Lazarus-like return to the prime ministership after winning a party room ballot this evening by a vote of 57-45. Rudd, who led the party to success at the 2007 election, replaces…
Buying power doesn’t always stack up as the best measurement for who we are and how far we’ve come. Shutterstock/ MaleWitch

More pie in the sky - economic progress no slice of life

In the verbal volley between Gillard and Abbott, Swan and Hockey, there is a conversation that we are not hearing. It bubbles below the consciousness of mainstream Australia, a conversation that is old…
Will history judge Julia Gillard favourably on her legislative record as prime minister? AAP/Alan Porritt

Will history remember Gillard’s three years favourably?

Julia Gillard has been a reasonably effective politician, but the political paradigm within which she has worked is approaching the end of its life. She has been aware of this but has struggled to develop…
In the three years since she took office, has Julia Gillard been able to reconcile her gender and position as prime minister? AAP/Mick Tsikas

Is Australia still not ready for a female prime minister?

On June 24, 2010, Australia’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, was sworn into office by Australia’s first female governor-general, Quentin Bryce. The iconic photographs of that day spoke of…
If Kevin Rudd replaces Julia Gillard as Labor leader next week, constitutional conventions dictate that he may not necessarily become prime minister again. AAP/Julian Smith

An end to the Rudd-Gillard battle?

If some reports are to be believed, Kevin Rudd will replace Julia Gillard as leader of the ALP and become prime minister again by the end of next week. This raises questions about the political and constitutional…
The impending disaster for Julia Gillard’s government at the federal election could also spell trouble for the hopes of the Greens in the Senate. AAP/Alan Porritt

Labor’s unpopularity could be a disaster for the Greens in the Senate too

The publicly available opinion polls are in agreement about the fate of the Labor government. A landslide defeat in the House of Representatives is looming, the magnitude of which might place Julia Gillard…
Despite criticisms that Julia Gillard has overplayed the gender card, the policies of her government have put in place a framework for true gender equality in the workplace. AAP/Alan Porritt

Gender equality at work: the Labor legacy

I was recently phoned by a journalist and asked to reflect on what the Labor government had done for gender equality. I started to jot down a number of reforms on the back of an envelope and surprised…
How central should Julia Gillard’s identity as a woman be in political discourse? AAP/Lukas Coch

Gillard, identity and the limits of political discourse

Politics and identity have collided with unusual force in Australian politics over the past year, reaching a crescendo in the last week. Beginning with Julia Gillard’s “misogyny speech” to parliament…
The sexism surrounding Australia’s first female prime minister Julia Gillard is nothing new for women in power: Britain’s first female PM Margaret Thatcher suffered similar. AAP/Tony McDonough

The gender wars: Thatcher and Gillard as ‘women’

The denigration of the first female Australian prime minister on the basis of her gender echoes that endured by the first female prime minister of Great Britain. While Julia Gillard has suffered the juvenile…
Kevin Rudd’s campaigning today will be a reminder to the caucus of his popularity among people. AAP/Dave Hunt

Grattan on Friday: caucus members are sitting on a powder keg

Kevin Rudd will hit western Sydney today to do some high profile campaigning. For Labor, he would say. For the leadership, others would note. Rudd will be mobbed. He’ll visit schools in the electorates…
In recent days, prime minister Julia Gillard has been accused of overplaying the ‘gender card’. AAP/Tony McDonough

Gillard and gender: has she been vindicated?

In a room full of feminists, there was hardly a sympathetic word in the room for prime minister Julia Gillard on Tuesday night. Earlier that day, the prime minister had launched Women for Gillard with…
A controversial menu from a Liberal Party fundraiser that the restaurant owner says was not distributed to attendees. Twitter

Dining out on the prime minister - time to change the ‘Menugate’?

In 2003, festooned on the sides of buildings and train stations and overpasses around Melbourne was a series of advertisements for Heaven ice creams. Each billboard boasted variants of the very same image…
If Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott continue to lead their parties at the upcoming federal election, we should see a focus on policy, not personality politics. AAP/Alan Porritt

Rudd, Gillard or Abbott … do leaders really matter in Australian election campaigns?

Leadership speculation grips Canberra again. With opinion polls pointing to a landslide Coalition victory in September, there are reports that Labor MPs may look to oust prime minister Julia Gillard in…
Has the Gillard government fully thought through its referendum on recognition for local government? AAP/Lukas Coch

Referendum chaos - do ministers really know what they are proposing?

I am not Nostradamus, but I am prepared to make a confident prediction. If the proposed constitutional amendment to recognise local government, in the form announced by press release last week, were to…
Julia Gillard’s visit to Papua New Guinea - including meeting PM Peter O'Neill - yielded little in advancing Australian or regional causes. AAP/Eoin Blackwell

Novel for its lack of novelty: Gillard in Papua New Guinea

Prime minister Julia Gillard returned from her first official visit to Australia’s nearest neighbour and former colony Papua New Guinea (PNG) on Saturday with little to show for it. Reports of the visit…
Julia Gillard and Stephen Smith’s new Defence White Paper places emphasis on working with China as well as the United States. AAP/Lukas Coch

White Paper brings new planes and ‘modest’ defence spending rise

The Government’s new Defence White Paper has adopted a conciliatory tone towards China, focused attention on the region and announced the purchase of a dozen new high-tech fighter planes. Julia Gillard…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has confirmed the Medicare levy will be increased to fund the NDIS. AAP/Julian Smith

Medicare levy boost to pay for disability insurance scheme

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a 0.5% increase in the Medicare levy to help fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) - but Labor will not bring in legislation for the higher tax…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard will today announce significantly lower than estimated tax revenue. AAP/ Shane Eecen

New hit to budget revenue

The estimate of budget tax revenue collection for 2012-13 has been further slashed, with the Treasury now saying it will be $12 billion less than forecast in October. The revision is another blow to a…
A germaine point… lost in the furore around comments over Julia’s jackets was a genuine insight into the relationship between power and attire. AAP/ Lukas Coch

Dressing the part: women, power, fashion - and that bloody jacket!

Germaine Greer had been responding to a questioner on the ABC’s Q&A program (March 19, 2012), who asked what advice the panel would give to the Prime Minister Julia Gillard on her image problem. Gillard’s…
Governor-General Quentin Bryce’s term ends after the election. Is it in the purview of the Gillard government to announce her replacement? AAP/Lukas Coch

Taking care of the caretaker conventions

Could the Gillard government appoint a successor to the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, to take up office in March 2014 when Bryce’s appointment expires? The press has reported that opposition leader…
Labor has traditionally had a strong support among female voters, but this could be set to change in 2013. AAP/Lukas Coch

Male and female voters: will there be a ‘gender gap’ in 2013?

A “gender dimension” now envelopes national politics unlike anything we have observed in the past. Julia Gillard’s popular but arguably unfair accusation that opposition leader Tony Abbott is a misogynist…
The Prime Minister was unable to get agreement with the states on the government’s school funding reforms. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Beaten but not Gonski: the wait for leadership on schools continues

The A$14 billion federal government proposal based on David Gonski’s call for a better school funding system has not been agreed to at this week’s COAG meeting. In fact, none of the states and territories…
Tertiary education minister Craig Emerson has outlined heavy cuts for the higher sector to help pay for the Gonski school reforms. AAP image/Alan Porritt

University cuts help pay for Gonski school reforms

The higher education sector is to take heavy budget cuts to help pay for the government’s Gonski school funding plan, a key measure in Julia Gillard’s bid for re-election. About A$2.3 billion will be saved…
Julia Gillard’s appearance is regularly commented on: is it just another way to talk about her gender? AAP/Alan Porritt

Gender bias: why appearance focus fuels sexism in media

Much has been written in the past few days about the legacy of the late British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, including many mentions of her hair. It is difficult to imagine similar attention being…
Changes to 457 visas by the Gillard government has divided political and public opinion in Australia. AAP/Lukas Coch

How the 457 scheme is changing Australian immigration

The current public debate over temporary employment 457 visa holders has thrown a spotlight on a major shift in Australia’s migration program. Historical context Prior to the introduction of the Temporary…
Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan face a significant challenge if they plan to change superannuation. AAP/Alan Porritt

Grattan on Friday: Labor’s super dilemma

Julia Gillard hardly had time for some deep breathing after the cyclone of last week, before her government was hit by fresh buffeting winds. A new round of speculation that the budget would hit superannuation…
New tertiary education minister Craig Emerson needs to bring stability to a portfolio that has seen three ministers in 2013. AAP/Alan Porritt

Ministerial revolving doors: why higher education needs stability now

Craig Emerson is definitely a multitasker. Who can forget his singing routine on national television last year when he borrowed the tune of the 1970s Skyhooks rock classic Horror Movie and lampooned alarmist…
Julia Gillard has been hit by criticisms she is promoting ‘class warfare’ from ministers who resigned in the wake of last week’s leadership spill. AAP/Alan Porritt

What class war? Searching for Labor values in the Labor party

Among all the self-serving tattle from disgruntled cabinet ministers who felt impelled to resign last week, surely the stupidest was the attack on Julia Gillard supposedly promoting “class warfare”. The…
The political show must go on but Labor is running out of time and options if it is to have any hope of avoiding a devastating defeat in this year’s election. AAP/Matt Roberts

‘Moving forward’: where does Labor go now?

Labor starts this week still reeling from the “no show” leadership spill and its aftermath. Labor’s electorally disastrous polls are likely to get even worse following those events. Are there any ways…
It takes more than Julia Gillard’s famed toughness to be a successful political leader. AAP/Matt Roberts

Rudd, Gillard and the impossible politics of Australian leadership

If this remarkable week in federal politics has shown us anything, it’s the relationship between politician, party, and public is more complex than ever. These events put to the test competing models for…
The sensible thing for Tony Abbott to do would be make himself as small a target as possible as the election draws near - but sooner or later he will need to put forward some detailed policies. AAP/Lukas Coch

Never mind the leadership, what about the Opposition?

When Tony Abbott became leader of the Liberal Party by just one vote in December 2009 he saved the Liberal Party and non-Labor cause nationally from annihilation. Kevin Rudd as prime minister was riding…
Could a corporation get away with running itself the way the ALP has handled its leadership woes? AAP

Labor could look to business to regain the lost art of leadership

Yesterday’s events around Labor’s leadership were stunning. Julia Gillard emerged victorious but polls will no doubt continue to predict a huge loss for this Government on election day and MPs in marginal…
Are leadership battles in Australian politics a sign of party difference or unity? Or is it something altogether different? AAP/Lukas Coch

Weightless politics and the Australian tendency to leadercide

In a scene in the famous 90s sitcom Seinfeld, George describes to Jerry an idea for a show about nothing. After the events of the last days and weeks in federal and state politics, we can ask whether Australian…
After surviving two challenges to her leadership, Julia Gillard faces a desperately tough fight in the upcoming election. AAP/Alan Porritt

The remains of the day: where to for Gillard?

After one of the more bizarre days in Australian politics, Julia Gillard remains as the prime minister of Australia. The question of leadership of the Labor Party has been a constant problem for the party…
Kevin Rudd resisted supporters' pleas to run. AAP/Lukas Coch

Grattan on Friday: Demoralised Labor faces bleak future

An extraordinary orgy of self-destruction has left Labor looking a shambles, with Julia Gillard now facing a reshuffle and an almost impossible task to get her government into fighting form for the September…
Julia Gillard emerges triumphant after challenging Kevin Rudd for the leadership in 2010. She has survived two subsequent threats to her leadership since. Is this the new normal for Australian politics? AAP/Alan Porritt

Julia Gillard may have won the vote, but the ALP remains desperately dysfunctional

Julia Gillard lives to fight another day, having being reelected unopposed at this afternoon’s caucus meeting. While Rudd declared he would not nominate for the leadership this time, the destablisation…
Julia Gillard has called a leadership spill for the second time in her prime ministership. AAP/Lukas Coch

Labor leadership challenge: experts respond

Prime minister Julia Gillard has called a ballot for the Labor party leadership at 4:30pm today, at the urging of minister and former leader Simon Crean. Crean has called on Kevin Rudd to step up and nominate…
The election is Tony Abbott’s to lose. But will weakness with many female voters cost him and will his record come to haunt him on issues like abortion? AAP/Lukas Coch

Re-inventing Tony: why Abbott’s attempt to woo women doesn’t bear scrutiny

Tony Abbott is trying to improve his image with many women. But as I found out when I met him recently, no makeover can erase his track record of public statements and actions, especially on issues of…
The ongoing leadership tensions inside the Labor government are only damaging the party’s long term health. AAP/Julian Smith

In order to win the war, Labor must be prepared to lose the battle

There’s something a little thrilling about a bit of leadership biffo. However, when such talk shows little sign of abatement, as it has in respect to Gillard’s leadership of the ALP, then the thrill factor…
Julia Gillard should make her diary of appointments and visits public according to the Information Commissioner. AAP/Dave Hunt

Gillard’s diaries are a matter of public interest

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been encouraged to be more open and accountable to the Australian public by releasing her official meeting diary. Although Gillard is not legally required to, Freedom of…
Tony Abbott has been quiet on the subject of federalism recently. AAP/Alan Porritt

Grattan on Friday: Abbott, a centralist at heart

Suddenly, everyone seems to be unloading about the state of federal-state relations and the problems of the Council of Australian Governments. COAG, where the prime minister, premiers and chief ministers…
Gillard should stop focusing on unions, and start explaining how to pay for progressive policy. AAP/Dave Hunt

Julia Gillard could win the election … by raising taxes

It is ironic that just as our politics become increasingly presidential, so too do the two contending party leaders become increasingly unpopular. Indeed, both parties increasingly campaign as if the choice…
Greens leader Christine Milne is focused on saving seats in the senate. AAP/Alan Porritt

Milne dumps Gillard in preparation for an Abbott government

The Labor caucus is still thinking about leadership, but Christine Milne and the Greens have given up spectacularly on Labor and Julia Gillard. In her shock tearing up of the Greens' alliance with the…
Martin Ferguson, Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan announced the MRRT in 2010 … but three ministers and three miners do not a policy make. AAP/Alan Porritt

In mining and governing, policy made on the fly is likely to flop

Most controversial public policy could be said to be made on the run, or at least amended on a brisk walk. So the revelations in Peter Martin’s recent article on the errors embedded in the Gillard government’s…
Julia Gillard’s early announcement of the election date has sparked a debate on fixed terms. AAP/Julian Smith

It’s time for a debate on federal fixed terms

When prime minister Julia Gillard announced last month the nation would go to the polls on September 14, she made political history and caught the nation off guard. She also sparked renewed debate about…
Julia Gillard has called a September election, will we be able to tell the difference between governing and campaigning? AAP/Alan Porrit

Governing in a campaign year: what next for policy in 2013?

Last week, prime minister Julia Gillard told the Australian public they’d be able to tell the difference between campaigning and governing during this election year. Over the following days, which saw…
Nicola Roxon, Julia Gillard and Chris Evans leave the stage after the press conference announcing the departure of the two former senior ministers. AAP/Alan Porritt

Would Roxon and Evans have resigned if Labor had greater purpose?

Much of the commentary surrounding the resignations of Nicola Roxon and Chris Evans has interpreted the departures as yet another episode in the neverending disaster that is the Rudd-Gillard government…
Former Higher Education Minister Chris Evans announces his resignation in Canberra. AAP/Alan Porrit

Roxon and Evans resign - much ado about nothing

The Gillard government has lost two important figures that contributed much to the Labor administration. Chris Evans, leader of the party in the Senate, and Attorney General, Nicola Roxon, both announced…
The prime minister has given the electorate seven and half months to tell her what they want. AAP/Alan Porrit

Community has seven months to put inequality back on the agenda

We have 226 days until the election, and are hearing lots of pious statements about having time for some serious policy debate. But we should use this time to move the policy debates well beyond what the…
Now that Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced the date of the federal election, can the business community expect more certainty about policy directions? AAP

PM’s election call is hardly a boon for the business community

Julia Gillard has now confirmed what everyone already knew: there will be an election sometime in August or September this year. We now know the precise date: September 14. That is also the Jewish Day…
Julia Gillard has taken a punt on a long campaign. AAP/Alan Porritt

Election 2013: Julia Gillard’s September gamble

Julia Gillard is an Australian political pioneer in many ways. She was the first female prime minister, she led the first minority government in the post-war period and recently moved to appoint the first…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard says calling the election now will enable a focus on policies rather then “petty politics”. AAP/Alan Porritt

PM surprises with September election announcement

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced the date of the 2013 election, with Australia to go to the ballot box on September 14. Ms Gillard today told the National Press Club the move would give certainty…
Julia Gillard has presented a coherent plan for an uncertain future. AAP/Lukas Coch

Gillard’s security strategy prepares for the known unknowns

The central problem for defence and security planners right now is uncertainty. The clarity of the Cold War is gone, new threats such as terrorism have come, and seemingly peaked, and what the rise of…
The latest results of international testing in maths, science and reading means Australia’s education outlook does not look good. Test image from www.shutterstock.com

Latest tests show PM’s 2025 education goal is in doubt

Prime Minister Julia Gillard in September set an ambitious goal for Australian education: to be ranked as a top-five country in reading, mathematics and science by 2025. Clearly she is hoping to lift Australia…
Julia Gillard has repeatedly answered questions about her role with the AWU, but it’s not enough for some journalists. AAP/Alan Porritt

AWU ‘scandal’ says more about the media’s ethics than the PM’s

Every time Prime Minister Julia Gillard repeats statements that she’s “done nothing wrong” in the AWU slush fund scandal story, it seems another journalist joins the fray. No one covering the story has…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard answered questions about the AWU affair at a press conference yesterday. AAP/Alan Porrit

What went wrong with the AWU?

The recent drama about Julia Gillard’s activities on behalf of one faction of the Australian Workers’ Union back in the early 1990s is another chapter in the long story of money in Australian unions. Parliament…
Now that Barack Obama has been re-elected for a second term, what are the implications for Australia? EPA/Shawn Thew

Australia and Obama’s return

All the world has a stake America’s presidential election. Barack Obama has seen off a surprisingly strong showing from Republican candidate Mitt Romney and now has four final years in the executive office…
Julia Gillard meets the govenor general after winning the 2010 election. Can she repeat the trick next year? AAP/David Foote

Sweetest of them all: how Julia Gillard won the 2013 election

From the time the carbon tax policy was unveiled in February 2011 until its implementation on July 1, the unchallenged consensus of the Canberra press gallery was that a Tony Abbott prime ministership…
Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd in parliament shortly after the 2010 federal election. AAP/Alan Porritt

Maxine McKew In Conversation: full transcript

Dennis Altman I’m going to start by quoting you when you say, talking about your career as a journalist, particularly a radio and television journalist, that “there was plenty of robust exchanges but my…
Julia Gillard will meet with her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in New Delhi this week for talks, with uranium, education and regional strategy high on the agenda. EPA/Barbara Walton

Gillard’s Delhi challenge: win over India and get the PM down under

Julia Gillard arrived yesterday in New Delhi for a three-day official visit. She’s there to promote Australia’s rising interest in India and seek greater economic, political and strategic links with that…
Julia Gillard’s speech to Tony Abbott put the issue of entrenched gender inequality squarely on the agenda. AAP

Gender equality is stymied by the persistent myth of merit

When Tony Abbott discussed the fallout from Peter Slipper’s resignation on ABC 24, he argued that he would rather that women were judged on what their actions are, rather than on the basis of their gender…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard in parliament - has the Slipper resignation cost her political momentum? AAP/Alan Porritt

Sinking the Slipper: Labor is its own worst enemy

The Gillard government could have been forgiven for believing an electoral renaissance was underway. But just as it appeared the prime minister was going to cruise to the end of the year, the government…
Julia Gillard attacked Tony Abbott’s past comments about women in a passionate speech during Question Time. AAP/Lukas Coch

Julia Gillard hits back at a long history of sexism in parliament

Peter Slipper has resigned. The sexist text messages mentioning female genitalia published as part of a civil court case were suddenly the bridge too far for Her Majesty’s Opposition. But the Opposition…
Tony Abbott greets Liberal MP Kelly O'Dwyer before an event in Melbourne. Does the Opposition Leader have an issue with women? AAP/David Crosling

Tony Abbott and women: how both sides have played the gender card

In a discussion with ABC journalist Emma Alberici on Lateline last week, Liberal MP Kelly O’Dwyer defended Tony Abbott from attacks by Labor ministers who criticised his attitudes towards women. In the…
Broadcaster Alan Jones has been embroiled in a controversy over remarks he made on Julia Gillard’s late father. AAP/Warren Clarke

Gillard takes a calculated risk in leaving Alan Jones adrift

The interesting part about this weekend’s kerfuffle over Alan Jones’ comments about the late John Gillard is not what Jones said. After all, we’ve known about his combative - some would say offensive…
It’s time to look closer at the value behind the work ethic. Julian Smith / AAP

Hard yakka: what’s the work ethic really worth?

Accepting the Democratic nomination earlier this month, President Barack Obama said he was inspired by the spirit of “the auto worker who won the lottery after his plant almost closed, but kept coming…
We’ve had the big announcement on schools funding, but now comes the political reality. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

State stoush: the Gonski reforms and the political battle ahead

The battle over the future of Australia’s school funding arrangements has started in earnest. Outlining the government’s response to the landmark Gonski Review, Prime Minister Gillard spoke of a national…
The Gillard response to the Gonski review was a disappointment and could have been much more. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

No detail, all strategy and an opportunity lost on Gonski reforms

Yesterday the Prime Minister announced the government will introduce some of the recommendations of the Gonski Review, including a new model for funding schools. Many commentators criticised the announcement…
Both political parties are lining up their elections strategies now, even though an election could still be a year away. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Feels like an election year? Here’s why

The former British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson famously said a week is a long time in politics. If this is the case, then you have to wonder how long it will feel if the current Parliament runs it full…
Julia Gillard yesterday blasted those on the internet for recycling rumours about her, part of what she calls a sexist campaign. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Misogynists and nut jobs: Gillard stares down blogosphere

Prime minister Julia Gillard took aim yesterday at the “misogynists” and “nut jobs” on the internet posting about her conduct 17 years ago while working as an industrial lawyer. The Prime Minister said…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard meets with the Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley in Canberra. AAP/Alan Porritt

The sad politics of the Houston Report on asylum seekers

Greeting the findings of the Houston expert panel on asylum seekers, The Australian front page exclaimed “At last, people put before politics”. This is, of course, ridiculous. The Malaysian solution would…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called on miners to accept that the resources they mine belong to the people. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Mining could invest in a future that belongs to all of us – education

Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered one of her strongest messages to the mining sector last night, telling mining bosses at a Minerals Industry dinner in Canberra that they don’t own Australia’s minerals…
Try telling sacked Toyota workers we live in a classless society. AAP/Julian Smith

Class warfare in Australia? We should be so lucky

The idea that Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan have launched a “class war” in Australia through last week’s federal budget is a huge joke. I don’t believe The Australian’s editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell even…
Tony Abbot’s budget reply speech was rife with contradictions. AAP/Alan Porritt

Ghosts of ideologies past hover around Abbott’s budget reply

To quote American baseball manager Yogi Berra, it was “déjà vu all over again” last night when I listened to Tony Abbott’s budget reply. I was back in the 1970s but without the big-collared shirts and…
Barack Obama has sent a message to same-sex attracted people everywhere: “I’m in your corner”. ABC News

Barack speaks out on gay marriage … Julia, are you listening?

This morning my phone woke me earlier than usual with a text from one of my sons, who regularly taps into American politics in the middle of the night. “Obama has come out for gay marriage – how about…
Julia Gillard and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at last week’s nuclear summit in Seoul. AAP/EPA

Julia Gillard is getting it wrong on Asia

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s recent performance in South Korea highlights once again the dangers of not taking Asia seriously. At a speech at a university, Gillard apparently stuck directly to script…
Gillard will try to distance herself from Queensland Labor, but it will be a tough sell. AAP/Alan Porritt

After Queensland: the ALP will struggle to recover in Canberra

A notable feature of the Queensland election outcome was, as in New South Wales last year, opinion polls correctly predicted the outcome. In both cases, some observers found it hard to credit that Labor…
Julia Gillard’s recent leadership battle provides a lesson for all executive women. AAP

How the gender balance increases the company bottom line

Today is the 101st anniversary of International Women’s Day, a day celebrated around the world to mark the legal, political, social and economic achievements of women. The change in corporate governance…
“Business as usual” isn’t an option for Prime Minister Julia Gillard if she wants to look like a leader. AAP

How Gillard should think the unthinkable and look like a leader

Now that the party’s votes are in, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has to make up ground with the voters. The polls are indicating the Labor Government is in deep trouble. Kevin Rudd was nothing if not analytical…
Gillard had a strong performance after yesterday’s leadership ballot, but there’s still a long way to go. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Cautious optimism for Gillard on one of Canberra’s strangest days

One of Julia Gillard’s better days in Australian politics was nonetheless brought to an unusual end yesterday with the resignation of Mark Arbib. The former right faction leader, who most recently served…
Julia Gillard claimed a definitive victory this morning: now the hard work begins. AAP

Gillard vs Rudd: the best of The Conversation’s coverage

From Kevin Rudd’s surprise resignation last week to this morning’s galvanising ballot, The Conversation has kept you up-to-date with analysis from Australia’s foremost academic political analysts. Just…
The process Labor uses to remove and replace parliamentary leaders contains some surprises. AAP/John Pryke

Labor leadership spill: the rules of the game

At 10am today, the Labor caucus will meet to settle the leadership battle between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. But how does the leadership selection process actually work? While the contest between Gillard…
Julia Gillard never had the courage to confront Kevin Rudd. ABC News 24

Kevin Rudd has the courage to lead that Julia Gillard lacks

Kevin Rudd has formally announced he will contest the Labor leadership in a ballot on Monday. This is just the latest act in the pantomime of Australian politics. This drama production is an indulgence…
The leadership spill could lead to constitutional confusion if Rudd wins next week’s ballot. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

What happens if Kevin Rudd wins the leadership spill?

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced this morning that she will hold a leadership ballot at 10am on Monday, to “settle once and for all” Labor’s escalating leadership crisis. Kevin Rudd has not formally…
Julia Gillard addressed the leadership crisis at a press conference in Adelaide this morning. ABC News24

Politics trumps policy in Labor’s leadership battle

The leadership contest between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd is largely a clash of personalities and a raw struggle for power, and there is essentially little policy difference between them. But should…
Kevin Rudd has said Julia Gillard is not the best person to lead Labor to the next election. ABC News24

Decoding Kevin Rudd’s leadership intentions

Less than 12 hours after making his dramatic resignation in Washington, Rudd was back at the lectern. This time, however, his speech sounded more like a campaign pitch. Watch part of Kevin Rudd’s conference…
Preparing a repeat? Kevin Rudd has first mover advantage in a leadership tussle, experts say. AAP

Kevin Rudd resignation: expert reaction

Kevin Rudd’s dramatic decision to resign in the early hours of the morning in Washington has caught Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the hop. In response, Prime Minister Gillard has issued a brief statement…
What’s gender got to do with it? We asked Cheryl Kernot. AAP/Julian Smith/Lukas Coch

Cheryl Kernot on politics, the media and female leadership

As one of the few women to have run a political party in this country Cheryl Kernot is well aware of the role gender plays in the Australian political landscape. In the wake of Bob Brown’s claim this week…
Tony Abbott says the end is near for the government, but can he bring it down? AAP/Alan Porritt

Explainer: motions of no confidence and the constitution

After declaring the Gillard government was entering its “endgame”, opposition leader Tony Abbott is believed to be preparing to table a motion of no confidence. Since Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie…
Andrew Wilkie has withdrawn his support for the Gillard government. AAP/David Beniuk

Gillard bets the house while Wilkie walks over pokie reform

The Gillard government finds itself in the same position it held at the start of 2011. The withdrawal of support from independent Andrew Wilkie means that, like this time last year, the government holds…
Andrew Wilkie must decide whether to walk away from the Gillard government. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Gillard’s pokie rethink shows weakness while Wilkie wavers

As speculation about Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s commitment to gambling reform grows, Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie is weighing up the pros and cons of a compromise deal with the government. Wilkie…
Senator Arthur Sinodinos makes his maiden speech earlier this year. AAP/Alan Porritt

In Conversation: Senator Arthur Sinodinos

Welcome to this In Conversation between Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos and Macquarie University politics expert Craig Mark. Sinodinos is a political paradox: he’s the newest member of the Australian…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has reshuffled her cabinet to try and refresh her image, but it won’t work. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Gillard’s reshuffle will not fool the voters

It might seem that the days before Christmas would be an odd time to announce a cabinet reshuffle, but for the Prime Minister it was the latest in a series of manoeuvres designed to help the government…
First among equals - Julia Gillard votes on a policy issue at the ALP national conference this weekend. AAP/Dean Lewins

ALP National Conference: Party reform the empty seat at the table

Potential reform of the Labor Party’s internal structure has been substantially limited, as the Right faction asserted its overall dominance of the weekend’s national conference. Prime Minister Julia Gillard…
The Tsar Bomba nuclear test is the largest ever nuclear explosion recorded, measuring 50 megatons and generating a 64km high mushroom cloud. flickr/andy_z

Australia’s opportunity to develop an ethical uranium trade

As the Australian Labor Party contemplates opening sales of uranium to India, it would be wise for our policy-makers to think more broadly about the long-term possibilities for Australia as a provider…
Peter Slipper made an impact in his first day as Speaker.

Speaker Slipper slips in as Gillard claims a tactical victory

The dramatic surprise resignation of Harry Jenkins as Speaker, on what was meant to be the final sitting day of the year for the House of Representatives (coincidentally also the fourth anniversary of…
Strategic friendships: will Australia’s decision to sign up to Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement impact on our relationship with China? AAP

A ‘zhengyou’ to China? Signing with Obama on trade puts this friendship to the test

The task of simultaneously negotiating our traditional security and cultural ties with the US, and our burgeoning economic relationship with China, can justifiably be described as the “great foreign policy…
A warm welcome for the President from Julia Gillard and the Governor General, but Australia should take care not to give too much away to the Americans. AAP/Stuart McEvoy.

Special relationship? Why Gillard needs to talk tough with Obama about US military base

It’s third time lucky for President Obama. He’s cancelled his trip to Australia twice before, but now he has finally made it to Canberra. Julia Gillard has struck up a friendship with the US President…
Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd celebrated the government’s carbon tax success, but she doesn’t have much reason to celebrate. AAP/Alan Porritt

Gillard’s political migration: one step forward, two steps back

Last week demonstrated how fast fortunes may change in politics. Just as the government thought it could get onto the front foot, it experienced a significant setback by not being able to make changes…
Without reform of the Migration Act, the governments plan for processing refugees offshore would be in tatters. AFP/Saeed Khan

A cynical Migration Bill ignores Australia’s international obligations

Later today the Australian Government plans to put the Migration Legislation Amendment (Offshore Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2011 to a vote in the House of Representatives. Without it, the government’s…
Julia Gillard has to strike a balance between forging meaningful links with Asian countries, and managing relationships with older allies. EPA/Rungroj Yongrit

The ‘lucky, lazy country’ shows how not to win friends in Asia

AUSTRALIA IN ASIA: In the third part of our series, former diplomat Alison Broinowski of the Australian National University examines our rocky relationship with our Asian neighbours. “Australia hasn’t…
Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia, Greg Moriarty, has been working to secure the release of the 14 year old, amid huge media interest. AFP/Sonny Tumbelaka

Bali teenager used as political pawn in domestic politics

The arrest of a 14 year old Australian boy accused of possessing marijuana in Bali has provoked a media storm. The Australian Ambassador to Indonesia says the case is his “top priority”, and even the Prime…
Australia will have to try something new, and align itself more closely to Asia. AAP Image/Adam Gartrell

Is Australia ready for the ‘Asian century?’

AUSTRALIA IN ASIA: In the first of The Conversation’s series on Australia’s relations with Asia, Professor Tony Milner of the Australian National University examines whether we are prepared for the “Asian…
Julia Gillard could face another awkward moment if Kevin Rudd moves against her next year. AAP/Alan Porritt

Rudd leads Labor in 2012? Don’t rule it out

Kevin Rudd’s presence as Foreign Minister has been a constant reminder that Julia Gillard’s ascension to Prime Minister was never fully accepted in the electorate, a perception confirmed by the 2010 election…
Julia Gillard inherited a failing government, and made it worse. AAP/Lukas Coch

Luckless Labor’s Malaysia failure

The American comedian WC Fields once joked that the best advice in business was “never give a sucker an even break”. Now the High Court has rejected the government’s deal with Malaysia to swap asylum seekers…
Preventive health is the the biggest loser in the health deal. AAP

Can we now close the book on health reform? Not quite

The deal’s been done and health reform is in the bag. It may not be quite as bold as originally planned by then prime minister Rudd – there’s even been a fair amount of watering down on Julia Gillard’s…
The deal has a narrower focus than the original but still delivers $20 billion of extra funds.

Health agreement diagnosis: ‘watered down but not a total cave in’

Health professionals and patients alike breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced she had struck a final deal with the states to reform the nation’s hospital system…
Julia Gillard was confronted by a shopper about the government’s carbon tax. AAP/Patrick Hamilton

Gillard’s carbon tax fightback evens up the playing field

Before the details of the carbon tax were released this week, the government was fighting with one hand tied behind its back. Sometimes it looked like it had both hands and feet manacled as Prime Minister…
Julia Gillard has to communicate her government’s reason for being. AAP

Dear Prime Minister: we want stories, not lessons

Former US presidential speechwriter, the late William Safire, outlined the components of a perfect political speech as follows: “tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em – then tell ‘em – then tell ‘em what…
Julia Gillard needs a ‘circuit breaker’ to turn the polls around. AAP/Andrew Taylor

A party in search of a story: why so few are listening to Labor

The Gillard Government just can’t sell its message. That was the view of independent MP Andrew Wilkie speaking on ABC Radio National this week. Recent opinion polls confirm the government has communication…

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