Get over it, girl, I am being told. Move on.
Accept the new reality. What’s done is done and, besides, you can’t argue with the polls.
Whatever you might think of Kevin Rudd or how it was done, people are saying, (they tend to be Labor people), it needed to be done: he has brought Labor back to a competitive position. Heck, we could even win.
So shut up with the gender stuff and the so-called bullying of the former prime minister.
We all know she was a dud.
In the 17 days since she was deposed Julia Gillard has been thoroughly trashed.
She was “incompetent”, wrote Graham Richardson, relying mainly on errors in the 2010 election campaign rather than her record of government for this assessment. “She lacked authenticity and never gained the trust of voters”, asserted Troy Bramston, overlooking the years of sabotage, stalking and sledging by the man who now wants voters to trust him. Laura Tingle even referred this week to “the Gillard experiment”, implying the ALP won’t be going there again. Meaning what? No more women? Or lawyers? Or single, childless, atheist Welsh redheads?
People hated her, I am told by way of justification for Gillard being hounded out of office, just look at the polls. Her party turned against her. OK, so there were only seven votes in it, but winning is winning. Don’t jeopardise the chance to stop Tony Abbott by banging on about it being un-Australian for bullying to be rewarded.
This is a very big ask.
I am not the only person who feels a range of emotions from utter sadness to irrepressible rage at how our first female prime minister was got rid of. I have had dozens and dozens of communications from people, most of them women, since June 26, many of them in the wake of reading my interview with Gillard, her last as prime minister. Without exception, these people are upset and angry. They are not ready to move on. Not yet, anyway.
What will it take?
Kevin Rudd is now undeniably back in charge. He is setting a cracking pace as he zips around the country laying on hands, dispensing his “fair dinkum” homilies, soaking up the love and consigning to the grave the “old politics” of negativity.
But while he might be pointing at Opposition Leader Tony Abbott while he talks about “old politics”, his sights are in fact set on Julia Gillard. Her three years and three days leading this country are now being systematically either derided and ridiculed or else totally airbrushed from history. It’s almost as if it is being suggested that we were not actually being governed for all that time.
Never mind that Gillard served longer as prime minister than Gough Whitlam. Or that Kevin Rudd will have to win the next election if he is to ever exceed her time in office. (And if he does, he could be stuck in there for a very long time under the proposed new leadership rules he sprang on the ALP this week).
On the night he regained his old job, Rudd acknowledged, without any specifics, that Gillard has “achieved much under the difficult circumstances of minority government”, but since then a cone of silence has descended.
At the National Press Club on Thursday he referred to the Hawke government, the Keating government and to his own “first” and “second” terms in office.
He did not once refer to Julia Gillard or her government. He paid no tribute to her stellar legislative record: some 590 pieces of legislation passed, despite the hung parliament, and including measures such as pricing carbon and the NDIS that he had not been able to achieve.
If Kevin Rudd wants generosity from those of us who are still upset about the way Gillard was treated, he had better start exhibiting some himself.
He could start by telling the truth.
He did not, for instance, replace “Gonski” with the “Better Schools” program. Gillard had already changed the name.
He criticised her for choosing September 14 as the election date because it falls on the High Holy Day of Yom Kippur.
As if Gillard was not aware of this. She had one of her senior advisers, Bruce Wolpe (who happens to be Jewish), consult Jewish leaders immediately after the announcement. “It was an inconvenience,” Wolpe told me this week. “But what made it acceptable was that we gave the community seven months’ notice and we pledged additional polling resources in those electorates where it would be an issue”.
(In fact since Australian elections are always on a Saturday, it’s always an issue for observant Jews. ”That’s what postal votes are for,” says Wolpe.)
Rudd took credit on Thursday for a paid parental leave scheme that (” ‘we’ launched”, he said) would not exist had Gillard not set the policy in motion by a reference to the Productivity Commission in 2008.
Instead of respecting Gillard’s legacy, he continues to throw barbs: “I have never believed in class warfare,” he said on Thursday. This of course is code, used by Martin Ferguson and others, for claiming the Gillard government was anti-business.
Nor does he “see things through the prism of gender,” he said last week. “I never have and I never will.”
Well, no, Kevin, being part of the dominant group, the one that is back running the joint, you wouldn’t. It would never occur to you.
But it remains an issue for a lot of us and, especially if you are a woman, it is hard not to see parallels in your own life when a female leader is so brutally felled.
In 2003 a member of the Dixie Chicks, the Texan all-girl group, rebuked President George Bush for invading Iraq. As a result they were told they needed to apologise. No way, the group said. Not Ready to Make Nice was their major hit song three years later. “I’m not ready to back down. I’m still mad as hell … ”
Originally published: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/mad-as-hell-and-not-ready-to-make-nice-20130712-2pv9d.html