By Emma Teitel - Monday, October 29, 2012 - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister’s fiery takedown of Australia’s Opposition leader is changing hearts and minds
First, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s fiery smackdown of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, whom she branded a misogynist, became a YouTube sensation; now, it seems to have made Aussies love their unpopular leader—or at least hate her less.
It all started earlier this month when Gillard, noting that Abbott had once questioned whether women have the required temperament and physiology to lead, gave him a 15-minute dressing-down, labelling him a sexist and a hypocrite: “I was offended when the leader of the Opposition went outside in the front of Parliament and stood next to a sign that said, ‘ditch the witch.’ I was offended when the leader of the Opposition stood next to a sign that described me as a man’s bitch. Misogyny, sexism, every day from this leader of the Opposition. Every day in every way.” The video has since been viewed more than two million times, and comes at a pivotal moment for Gillard, who leads a minority government and is trying to push through unpopular spending cuts as the country’s mining boom cools.
Her approval rating jumped by five points in the wake of the incident, giving her a 10-point lead over Abbott, and it even prompted Australia’s Macquarie Dictionary to broaden its official definition of misogyny to include precisely the kind of sexist behaviour Gillard, the country’s first female leader, denounced in Parliament this month. (It is no longer limited to “pathological hatred” of women, but an “entrenched prejudice against women,” as well.)
Fiona Probyn-Rapsey, senior lecturer of gender and culture studies at the University of Sydney, says Gillard’s speech was a watershed moment in a country in which sexism is part of the cultural landscape. Gillard, once described as “barren” by a political opponent, has been “putting up with this sexist language for so long,” says Probyn-Rapsey, adding that Australia has “a profound anxiety when it comes to dealing with women in power.” She says that the Australian media was largely dismissive of Gillard’s speech—initially, the prime minister was accused of playing the “gender card”—until it gained positive attention outside the country. And then it gained traction inside the country. If polling trends continue, Gillard’s Labor party should win next year’s election. She is now seen as the preferred PM by 50 per cent of voters, while Abbott’s disapproval rating, now at 60 per cent, may climb after his latest gaffe. This week he said the government, which is cutting the baby bonus, wasn’t “experienced” about children—an apparent dig at Gillard, who is childless. Abbott’s woes are disappointing to John Winter, a 63-year-old Brisbane architect and Abbott supporter, who thinks Gillard’s status as feminist hero is “ridiculous.” He believes her speech was an opportunistic ploy, not unlike—in his opinion—her ascent to power. “She is poisonous,” says Winter, who accuses Gillard of attempting to “hitch up the sexism” to distract from political missteps like introducing a carbon tax when she promised she wouldn’t. To others, like Probyn-Rapsey, however, Gillard’s speech marks a significant moment—“when this woman stood up.”
By Emily Senger - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 11:51 AM - 0 Comments
Australian Opposition leader Tony Abbott is again under fire for comments deemed to be…
Australian Opposition leader Tony Abbott is again under fire for comments deemed to be inappropriate, just weeks after he took a tongue-lashing from Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who accused him of being sexist and misogynist during an impassioned speech in Parliament.
Speaking on a morning talk show about the government’s decision to reduce the amount of “baby bonus” payments parents receive after the birth of their second child, Abbott said: “I think if the government was a bit more experienced in this area, they wouldn’t come out with glib lines like that.”
The comment was viewed by some as a direct dig at Gillard, who does not have children. Following the comments, Gillard said, in another interview, that Abbott could explain what he meant by “that line.”
Abbott later clarified his statement in an interview with Australian news talk radio station 3AW, saying that he and his wife had two children just 15 months apart and he was speaking about his personal experience, not about the prime minister.
He also offered a this apology: ”If she wants to take offence, I’m sorry about that,” he said. “What we’ve got is a government which hyperventilates about all sorts of things at the least possible excuse.”
Though Opposition members are now complaining that they have to walk on eggshells, lest they offend the prime minister, Gillard has something to smile about. The Australian reports that a new poll shows Gillard’s popularity has risen 10 points over Abbott in the wake of her misogyny speech.
By Martin Patriquin - Monday, February 6, 2012 at 8:20 AM - 0 Comments
Garth Brooks resurfaces, Jonathan Franzen’s new snit, and Christine Sinclair sends Canada to London
A model union
The union movement just got a whole lot more photogenic. Sara Ziff, a waifish 29-year-old model from Manhattan, is the industry’s first labour leader. Launching in February, Ziff’s Model Alliance hopes to enforce ﬁnancial transparency laws, as well as sexual harassment and health care issues for U.S. catwalkers. Contrary to the glossy fantasy, Ziff says, modelling is a bruising, exploitation-prone industry that chews up and spits out the vast majority of those who try to make a go of it. Ziff, who quit the industry at 25 after an A-list career modelling the likes of Calvin Klein and Stella McCartney, says Model Alliance isn’t a union per se, but a regulatory agency that will police the industry.
Julia’s very bad week
Pity Julia Gillard. The Australian prime minister had to be dragged to safety by bodyguards after Aboriginal protesters crashed an awards ceremony on Australia Day. What’s worse, the protesters were actually targeting opposition leader Tony Abbott, who earlier in the day had criticized an Aborigine occupation of the grounds outside Parliament House. It was the second time in as many weeks Gillard had to retreat. She recently said a gift she’d received from the Queen was paid for by Aussie taxpayers. Gillard was incorrect, and the Queen was not amused.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 6:56 PM - 0 Comments
Tony Abbott—leader of a conservative coalition—delivered a speech on the matter last April. Two years ahead of the vote, the government has preemptively accused Mr. Abbott of harming their campaign for a seat.
By Julia Belluz - Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 1:20 PM - 0 Comments
Her opponent pulls out the family card in an effort to topple the childless Prime Minister down under
For Australia’s first female prime minister, the decision not to have children was a political one. Julia Gillard, also the first unmarried leader of the world’s smallest continent, recently cited Baroness Margaret Thatcher’s son Mark—once convicted of taking part in an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea—when she argued that children can detract from a life in politics, and may even become a political liability. But now this decision to be childless, and Gillard’s gender, are becoming themes in the run-up to the country’s Aug. 21 election, which Gillard called after only three weeks in office.
The campaign is pitting the 48-year-old Gillard and her Labour government against the Conservative leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, 52. So far, Abbott, who needs to win only an extra nine seats to form a government, has attempted to use his wife and three daughters to differentiate himself from Gillard, and improve his ratings with female voters. When asked whether he is playing the family card to win the election, he said: “I think families are important, I take them seriously.”
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 10:42 AM - 36 Comments
So the Labor caucus in Canberra will vote at 9 a.m. — soon — on whether Kevin Rudd should remain as the party’s leader and therefore as Australia’s prime minister. The betting is, he’s toast — vegemite toast, mate — and his lieutenant Julia Gillard, who had of course denied any such ambition, will replace him. Australia news front pages here, here and here. A very basic blog post to help you get up to speed is here.
The heart of the problem is shown here — national polls show the right-of-centre opposition coalition (cue coalition geek schadenfreude) gaining on Rudd and that the pain is most acute in swing ridings Labor needs for victory.
Gee, if only someone would explain What It All Means for Canada. Way ahead of you. Here’s a column I wrote before Christmas about Tony Abbott, the Stock Day/Stephen Harper-ish leader of the opposition, whose brash social conservatism seemed merely novel only six months ago but has now pushed a sitting prime minister to the brink.
By Paul Wells - Friday, December 11, 2009 at 9:00 AM - 37 Comments
Abbott likes to be photographed in Speedos and called PM Kevin Rudd a ‘toxic bore’
Michael Ignatieff is safe for the moment, but there is one Liberal leader whose party showed him the door this month. Malcolm Turnbull led Australia’s Liberal opposition until Dec. 2—when the party’s parliamentary caucus voted 42-41 to strip him of the top job and give it to Tony Abbott instead.
That made a few well-tuned Conservative ears here in North America perk up. Recall that in Australia summer is winter and the Liberal party is home to the country’s conservatives. (The main party they face, the left-leaning government, is formed by Labor under the blandly reassuring Kevin Rudd.) John Howard’s 1996 Liberal election victory was one of the models for Stephen Harper’s Canadian election win a decade later.
Tony Abbott’s sudden rise is no guarantee of anything. His party is still well behind Rudd’s in the polls. But the kind of guy Tony Abbott is has won him the attention of people close to Harper.
“He combines Stockwell Day’s religiosity and athleticism with Stephen Harper’s ideology and intellect,” one Canadian Conservative said to me in an email.