Gillard Speaks Out On Sexism At Opera House


Julia Gillard has used her first public interview since she was ousted from office in June to decry an undercurrent of “really ugly, violent sexism” in Australia.

Speaking to feminist journalist Anne Summers in front of a packed auditorium at the Sydney Opera House, Gillard joked that while the sexist attacks she experienced during her time in office filled her with “murderous rage”, she chose to rise above them. 

“Yes it’s about me, but it’s about all of us and about the kind of society we want to be for all of us … we should feel a sense of rage about it because it’s only something that really spurs you on to action that is going to change.”

Gillard said her famous October 2012 "misogyny speech" was a “crack point" brought on when Tony Abbott lectured her on sexism. She went on to express her frustration at his accusations that she played the so-called "gender card", saying that women should be able to stand up for themselves, without being accused of playing the victim. 

“If it was your daughter experiencing sexism at work what would your advice be?" Gillard asked. "Because if she says something she is apparently playing the gender card and if she doesn't then she really is a victim".

Gillard gave a clear endorsement of Tanya Plibersek as a future Labor leader, describing her as “one of our most gifted communicators” and suggested that, given the “disappointing” lack of women in his Cabinet, Prime Minister and Minister for Women Tony Abbott might like to reach across the partisan divide and seek advice on women’s issues from Plibersek.

Gillard also revealed that, despite concerns that Hilary Clinton was “exhausted” at the end of her time as Secretary of State, she hoped that she might stand as a candidate at the 2016 presidential election saying “wouldn't it be wonderful to follow the first African American president with the first woman president?"

Speaking to New Matilda before tonight’s event, Anne Summers said that her interview with Julia Gillard will be the first in a series of high profile live interview events, which are being produced by her digital magazine, Anne Summers Reports.

“Events associated with digital publishing are still quite new," Summers said. "The concept of Anne Summers Conversations is to bring to life people readers will have 'met' in our pages. I believe that readers will really value the chance to humanise the digital relationship, to see the person interviewed in the flesh and to ask questions. The success of ABC’s Q&A program is testament to that.”

Julia Gillard's speech saw frequent applause and two standing ovations. Gillard graciously declined to favour a candidate in the current Labor leadership contest, rather clumsily reaffirmed her opposition to marriage equality and said she would still encourage young women to go into politics. “The benefits and what you get to do are far superior to the burdens," she said.

Last night Australia saw the warm and witty side of Julia Gillard, which was not often seen during her prime ministership. Watching her beam with genuine pleasure as she received a spontaneous bunch of flowers from the floor at the end of the evening, it was hard not to hope that this outpouring of affection might in some small way compensate for the relentless misogynistic attacks she endured as Australia’s first female prime minister.

Summers will conduct another interview with Julia Gillard at the Melbourne Town Hall this evening.

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