Julia Gillard Anne Summers interview 

Gillard on why she wrote to Herald journalist Joanne McCarthy here

JULIA Gillard has thrown a thinly veiled barb at Kevin Rudd for disloyalty and for destabilising her prime ministership, declaring the difference between her behaviour and his was that she always worked for the re-election of the Labor Government.

She said while it was difficult to accept the outcome of the ballot which returned Mr Rudd to the prime ministership, she had quickly concluded the best course was to give her party ‘‘the gift of silence’’ and not making public comments before the election.

Speaking to Anne Summers last night, the only public comments she has made on the explosive events of June and Mr Rudd’s role in eventually replacing her, Ms Gillard justified her original move on Mr Rudd in June 2010 as ‘‘legitimate’’.

‘‘To ask your leader to have a leadership ballot, that’s legitimate, to do things continuously that undermine the Labor Party and the Labor government, then of course that shouldn’t be done by anyone,’’ she said.

‘‘The key difference is every day I was Deputy Prime Minister, I spent all of my time doing everything I could to have the Labor government prosper.’’

She also used the opportunity to hit out at media reports that she had split with her long-time partner Tim Mathieson, declaring the rumours completely untrue and claiming the original report in the Woman’s Day magazine had been written without contacting her.

In her first serious interview since her removal from office on June 26, Ms Gillard told a sell-out audience at the Sydney Opera House that she was all too aware of the sexist treatment of her on the internet and elsewhere but chose not to engage despite a feeling of ‘‘murderous outrage’’.

However, she expressed the view that it would hopefully be easier for a woman to follow in the future, all but endorsing Tanya Plibersek as a future female prime minister describing her one of the nation’s most gifted communicators.

She said there was ‘‘an underside of sexism, really ugly, violent sexism’’ in Australia but it was not clear that it was a merely a function of the new media age.

‘‘I would have thought we were beyond that and it’s kind of depressing that it’s not,’’ she said.

Ms Gillard also spoke of the difficulties of managing the minority parliament revealing she had needed to have the Prime Minister’s office ‘‘re-wired’’ in order to have the division bells ring when a vote was on in the House of Representatives because the numbers were so finley balanced the government could have been defeated at any time.

Ms Gillard said she regarded her April trip to China culminating in a new special relationship between Beijing and Canberra to establish annual meetings at prime minister level as her biggest foreign policy achievement.

The good natured exchange also brought out an admission that her first meeting with US President Barack Obama almost went awry when she asked him if he was ‘‘mad’’ for expressing jealousy about the parliamentary tradition of Question Time.

While the questions were almost universally friendly, it was a  boy not even tall enough to reach the microphone, that stumped her.

Why, he asked, did she oppose gay marriage.

As she had done during her prime ministership, Ms Gillard fumbled her way through an answer that ultimately went nowhere, and singled itself out as the only question for the night that received a qualified applause. 

Head held high, Gillard gets the respect

 TO the sound of Aretha Franklin’s Respect, Julia Gillard strode onto the Sydney Opera House stage and back into public life yesterday, to be greeted with  a standing ovation.

In her first appearance since being dumped as Labor leader in June, Ms Gillard reflected on the sexist abuse she endured as the nation’s first female prime minister.

‘‘There was this underside of really ugly violent sexism that came forward,’’ she said. 

‘‘I think it finds expression because of the social media but it would have been there anyway.

‘‘Whoever the next woman [prime minister] is... we don’t want it to be like that for her again.’’

Ms Gillard said she was now in favour of a conscience vote on same-sex marriage, refused to back Bill Shorten or Anthony Albanese for Labor leader and said Hillary Clinton would be an ideal first American woman president after the first African American one.

Mr Shorten and Mr Albanese both attended a Labor party members’ forum sausage sizzle in Perth yesterday,  where they agreed to work with whoever won the leadership battle. They were reunited again on the ABC’s Q&A on Monday night.

Ms Gillard also announced in her interview with Anne Summers that in addition to her University of Adelaide appointment, she had secured an  education gig with Washington think tank the Brookings Institution.

In a wide-ranging discussion, one of the few words Ms Gillard did not utter was Rudd. 

However, she obliquely acknowledged the man who did her down when asked how she remained motivated.

‘‘I certainly had moments of some stress and pressure. In my final speech as prime minister,  I did say to myself I wouldn’t give to those people the satisfaction of seeing me shed a tear,’’ she said. About 80 percent of the audience were women. Most of the men  were aged under 35.

Among the  politicians  were Wayne Swan, Tanya Plibersek, Stephen Loosley and David Cox.Ms Gillard appears at a similar event in Melbourne today.

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