‘This isn’t OK from our first feminine PM’: Gillard’s legacy underneath the highlight

Terese Edwards missed Julia Gillard’s well-known misogyny speech. She was at Parliament Home on October 9, 2012, however she was outdoors, on the parliament’s lawns, protesting in opposition to adjustments to the single-parenting fee handed into regulation that day by Gillard’s Labor authorities.

A single mother outside Parliament House in 2012 protesting against Labor’s cuts to the single parenting payment.

A single mom outdoors Parliament Home in 2012 protesting in opposition to Labor’s cuts to the only parenting fee.Credit score:Andrew Ellinghausen

Edwards, the chief govt of the Nationwide Council of Single Moms and their Kids, says these adjustments plunged tens of hundreds of single moms into poverty, and their results are nonetheless being felt a decade later.

“I felt like there was this unimaginable occasion, however I by no means certified for the tickets, so I missed out,” Edwards says of Gillard’s electrifying speech, calling out then-opposition chief Tony Abbott for misogyny.

October 9 marks the speech’s tenth anniversary.

“I needed to clap and cheer and be a part of that empowerment, however I couldn’t,” Edwards says.

“I used to be an inconvenient actuality as a result of I used to be saying: ‘This isn’t OK from our first feminine PM’.”

The Gillard authorities amendments, handed quietly into regulation that historic afternoon, pushed greater than 80,000 single dad and mom off the parenting fee and onto the decrease Newstart fee, leaving some as much as $110 per week worse off.

The choice ended the grandfathering association put into place by prime minister John Howard in July 2006, when he stopped dad and mom claiming the parenting fee when their youngest baby turned eight.

Terese Edwards (centre) was an inconvenient reminder that the Gillard agenda was hurting single parents.

Terese Edwards (centre) was an inconvenient reminder that the Gillard agenda was hurting single dad and mom.
Credit score:Dominic Lorrimer

Those that have been already on the fee in July 2006 have been allowed to maintain it till their youngest turned 16, that means subsequent siblings have been additionally lined.

The Gillard authorities choice to finish the Howard-era grandfathering preparations was defended as a crucial price range reduce.

It saved $728 million over 4 years, and a 2020 Parliamentary Price range Workplace evaluation discovered the Howard and Gillard adjustments mixed had saved taxpayers $5 billion.

Gillard additionally mentioned it was a equity measure – the grandfathering provisions meant some single-parent households acquired greater than others in the identical place.

“It was a coverage adopted by the Howard authorities, mainly as a result of the proof exhibits that it’s within the pursuits of youngsters to be in a family with a father or mother who works, so it was a welfare-to-work measure,” Gillard informed the ABC’s Q&A program in 2020. “We didn’t do it from some impulse that was anti-single dad and mom or youngsters.”

However Peter Davidson, principal adviser with the Australian Council of Social Service, disputes the reduce was a welfare-to-work measure.

Mother and father on the only parenting fee have been already required to search for work, and to simply accept part-time employment if their youngest baby was six years or over.

Julia Gillard continues to defend the changes to the parenting payment her government made.

Julia Gillard continues to defend the adjustments to the parenting fee her authorities made.Credit score:Andrew Meares

“It had completely nothing to do with helping or requiring these dad and mom to take up part-time employment,” he says.

“It was an appalling coverage. It was a cost-saving on the expense of households and kids within the deepest poverty.”

The Poverty in Australia report 2018, performed by ACOSS and the College of NSW, charted the affect of the coverage, with the info exhibiting a “sharp rise in poverty amongst households with sole dad and mom who have been unemployed, from 35 per cent in 2013 to 59 per cent in 2015”.

Anthony Albanese, Invoice Shorten and Jenny Macklin, who was the group companies minister when the cuts have been made, later disowned the coverage and mentioned it ought to by no means have been carried out.

In 2014, Macklin informed a gaggle of single moms the change was “too onerous, too blunt”. Shorten mentioned in 2013 that “there are professional grievances which have emerged from the coverage” and Albanese mentioned single dad and mom he spoke to felt the coverage indicated a scarcity of respect. (The Albanese authorities has indicated no plans to reverse the reduce.)

Gillard is alone in nonetheless defending it. She informed Q&A {that a} “honest weighing” of all of the measures her authorities took to help deprived households, significantly when it got here to schooling, would present “we made an actual distinction”.

Within the 10 years since Gillard’s well-known misogyny speech, there was a nationwide reckoning over the rank sexism and vile gender-based abuse she confronted as Australia’s first feminine prime minister. Not like different former prime ministers, Gillard has saved aloof from home politics, and has constructed a formidable worldwide profession selling the rights of women and girls.

However how female-friendly was her authorities in coverage phrases?

Was she so hamstrung by accusations she was “enjoying the girl card” that she failed to advertise insurance policies addressing gender inequity? (Gillard has lately mentioned she made a “huge error” not calling out earlier the sexism she confronted.)

Emeritus Professor Marian Sawer, of the Australian Nationwide College, is a political scientist with an experience in ladies’s coverage. She factors to a “few negatives” when assessing Gillard’s feminist legacy.

She mentions the single-parent coverage, and likewise the truth that Gillard went to the 2010 election with no correct ladies’s coverage.

“It was launched the day earlier than the election with out telling anyone, and was not included within the insurance policies on the ALP’s marketing campaign web site,” Sawer says.

Julia Gillard concedes she made a mistake not calling out the sexism she faced while in power.

Julia Gillard concedes she made a mistake not calling out the sexism she confronted whereas in energy.Credit score:Andrew Meares

She additionally notes Gillard’s choice to depart the Workplace for Ladies throughout the Division of Households, Housing, Neighborhood Companies and Indigenous Affairs.

Howard had moved the Workplace for Ladies into that division as a result of he thought it belonged with households.

Ladies’s coverage consultants objected to this, seeing it as a relegation — the workplace had normally been throughout the Division of Prime Minister and Cupboard, guaranteeing higher prominence inside cupboard.

Gillard saved the Howard authorities preparations, and whereas she had a minister for ladies in her authorities, solely the final individual to serve in that position, Julie Collins, was in cupboard.

Alternatively, says Sawer, Gillard “made huge investments within the care economic system”, which largely employs ladies.

Her authorities established the Nationwide Incapacity Insurance coverage Scheme and allotted billions in funding to it. No less than 80 per cent of group service staff are feminine.

“When the Australian Companies Union introduced a profitable case underneath the brand new Honest Work Act, the Gillard authorities introduced $2 billion in funding to assist pay for the will increase,” Sawer says.

Julia Gillard on the hustings in 2010.

Julia Gillard on the hustings in 2010.Credit score:Andrew Meares

The Gillard authorities additionally confirmed a “actual dedication” to redressing the gender pay hole.

“[Gillard] ensured 4 years’ funding for a pay-equity analysis unit within the Honest Work Fee,” Sawer says. “Equal remuneration additionally grew to become the primary object of the Office Gender Equality Act 2012.”

One cost generally laid in opposition to Gillard is hypocrisy – this has to do with the distinctive and relatively sordid context for her well-known misogyny speech.

In 2012, her minority authorities was in nice turmoil following media revelations the then-parliamentary Speaker, Peter Slipper, had despatched specific textual content messages to his media adviser, James Ashby.

They included one through which Slipper referred to feminine genitalia as trying like mussels.

“Take a look at a bottle of mussel meat. Salty c–ts in brine,” learn the textual content message from Speaker to staffer.

The texts have been surprising – a window into an unprofessional, sexualised office tradition in Parliament Home, a tradition that has come underneath intense scrutiny in recent times.

Since 1993, Slipper had been the LNP member for the Queensland seat of Fisher however in 2011, he was going through disendorsement in favour of rival Mal Brough, a former Howard authorities minister. The Gillard authorities, seeing a chance, lured Slipper to the Speaker’s job in November. Slipper left the LNP, and took the (extremely paid) job.

Peter Slipper came under fire for his off-colour remarks about women’s genitalia.

Peter Slipper got here underneath hearth for his off-colour remarks about ladies’s genitalia.Credit score:Andrew Meares

This manoeuvre meant Gillard may return the outgoing Labor Speaker, Harry Jenkins, to the ground of the Home of Representatives, and shore up her fragile minority authorities.

However a political scandal erupted in April 2012 when Ashby filed a lawsuit in opposition to Slipper, alleging the Speaker had sexually harassed him (these proceedings have been finally discontinued after a settlement was reached, and Ashby’s software to have his authorized prices lined by the Commonwealth was rejected).

Slipper’s textual content messages have been leaked to the media, and Gillard got here underneath sustained stress from opposition chief Tony Abbott, who mentioned the texts have been “obscenely offensive … what feminine Labor members would describe as sexist and misogynist if anybody else had uttered them”.

On the day of October 9, Gillard and Abbott traded insults throughout the Despatch Field, with the battle constructing as query time wore on.

Amongst different issues, Abbott mentioned Gillard’s authorities ought to have “died of disgrace”, a horrible echo of broadcaster Alan Jones’ beforehand reported comment about Gillard’s lately deceased father having “died of disgrace” over his daughter.

“It is a authorities which is barely too able to detect sexism, to detect misogyny, no much less, till they discover it in certainly one of their very own supporters,” Abbott thundered at Gillard.

He then moved a movement of no confidence within the Speaker.

These accusations of sexism, from a person who had a decades-long public historical past of his personal sexist feedback, together with these directed at her, have been an excessive amount of for Gillard.

Julia Gillard let loose against Tony Abbott, who was the opposition leader.

Julia Gillard let free in opposition to Tony Abbott, who was the opposition chief. Credit score:Andrew Meares

She let free in her response opposing Abbott’s movement.

It was a political speech, however the motivation was additionally private: she’d had sufficient.

The well-known speech marked the primary time a second in Australian politics had gone actually “viral”.

Inside per week, the YouTube video of the speech had 1 million views. It was reported all over the world. In 2020, a Guardian readers’ ballot named it the No.1 most unforgettable second in Australian TV historical past. Gillard has mentioned she was reconciled to the truth that it has most likely over-shadowed her achievements in workplace.

“Even by the point I’d walked again to my workplace from the chamber … there have been beginning to be calls and a response past Canberra,” Gillard informed Information Corp final week.

“I believe its energy has been that there are tens of millions of ladies – and I really feel like I’ve met tens of millions of them – who’ve lived by way of sexist experiences, misogynistic experiences.

Women responded to Gillard’s speech.

Ladies responded to Gillard’s speech. Credit score:Alex Ellinghausen

“And at 3am, they’re going, ‘Oh, I want I’d mentioned that, I ought to have given it again to him, I shouldn’t have taken it.’ And it’s a speech that helps seize the frustrations of these moments.”

(Abbott informed The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age this week: “There’s little doubt that it was a substantial coup de théâtre, however let’s not overlook that its objective was to get her off a hook of her personal making, specifically defending her [pick for Speaker] in opposition to extremely credible sexual harassment claims plus references to ladies by that very same Speaker that ought to by no means have been defended.”)

Slipper resigned just a few hours later, however by then the story had moved previous its rapid context, and Gillard’s oratory had earned her a spot in historical past.

For a lot of ladies in Australia and the world over, it’s an eloquent howl of feminine anger, exhilarating and funky in equal measure.

It has taken on new life on TikTok, with Zoomers miming the speech affectionately in movies, to the backing of remixed music.

This pattern caught the attention of Gillard herself – she appeared in a single mimed by younger feminist activist Chanel Contos.

Gillard pops up proper on the finish, arms crossed, smiling, wearing one her well-known jackets – the jackets which have been so closely scrutinised within the sexist commentary she confronted as prime minister.

Its color is suffragette white.

Minimize by way of the noise of federal politics with information, views and professional evaluation from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can signal as much as our weekly Inside Politics publication right here.

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