WE SAY: “YES, PRIME MINISTER”
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard’s speech at a news conference yesterday, in which she said she had been the subject of a “sexist smear campaign”, has won the support of female former high-profile politicians from across the political spectrum.
Julia Gillard at yesterday’s press conference. Photograph via news.com.au.
Kerry Chikarovski, Natasha Stott Despoja and Cheryl Kernot told The Hoopla that the PM’s speech was “courageous” and it was time that misogynist behaviour in politics was recognised and denounced.
They also said personal attacks against her made it increasingly difficult for those seeking a role in public life.
Ms Gillard called the news conference to answer questions surrounding her role as an industrial lawyer at Slater & Gordon in the early 1990s when acting for an Australian Workers Union branch run by her then partner, the allegedly corrupt Bruce Wilson.
Ms Gillard rejected claims she had acted unethically or illegally.
“In terms of the people who continue to circulate these claims – will the misogynists and the nutjobs on the internet continue to circulate them? Yes they will…. they will continue to pursue these claims for motivations of their own which are malicious and not in any way associated with the facts.”
To one journalist at the press conference who asserted that it wasn’t as if the PM was ”fresh off the train from Adelaide”, Ms Gillard replied: “How old are you? Thirty-two? Let me assure you you’ll know a bit more when you’re 50 than you do now.”
We contacted a number of women who attained the highest levels of leadership in Australian politics for comment… here’s what they had to say:
“During my time as Leader of the Opposition I fronted more than one difficult press conference.
What the public don’t understand is the sometimes almost vitriolic attacks by the media can be very personal and over the top.
People expect politicians to be able to take the pressure but often don’t realise that the intensity of the scrutiny can be almost overwhelming.” Kerry Chikarovski. Former leader of the Liberal NSW Opposition. Follow her on Twitter @kerryChika
“Of course, there are gender overtones in the criticism and attacks levelled at the Prime Minister.
I am glad she has put a name and words to the behaviour to which she is so often subjected. A lot of what she has experienced is misogynist and it is time she denounced it as such.
Who would be a figure in public life these days? Unsubstantiated allegations in the media and free-flowing blog comments do not make public service, in particular politics and political leadership, an attractive choice”. Natasha Stott Despoja. Former leader of the Australian Democrats.
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