Julia Gillard: our First Hollow Woman.

3 Apr

by Debbi Long via flickr

I’ve been in denial about Julia Gillard‘s prime ministership since her first day on the job. I’ve only just decided I’d better examine this unhealthy emotional defense, and my resistance to doing even that is strong.

The most common form my denial takes is whenever I see or hear Gillard I struggle to block her right out of my awareness. I don’t just “switch off,” I wish it was that easy, no, I have to actively deny her entry into my consciousness, rather like a metaphysical turning of not just my back, but my whole being.

If I’m not quick enough, and she gets in despite my lack of hospitality, I find myself swearing without either finesse or coherence, as well as making the medieval hand gesture used to ward off the devil, that one like the “call me” sign but with the first and pinky fingers and facing the other way, usually directed towards the enemy’s third eye.

I used this against John Howard as well, I’m not partisan.

The thought that generally accompanies this bit of theatre is “She’s not really our Prime Minister, someone else is, she’s just a pretend one till the real one comes along, so I don’t need to listen to anything she says, she’s a usurper.”

It isn’t just  question of not believing a word she says. I didn’t like how she acquired the top job. I didn’t like the maternalistic undercurrents revealed in what she told us when she took over, along the lines of: “the government has lost it’s way and I’m here now to get it back on track.” Tickets on herself, is what I thought, an understandable assessment when we recall that hardly anybody in the general population knew what was going on in federal Labor at the time.

I didn’t like her rush to placate the Australian Christian Lobby‘s fears that gay marriage might be legalized. I didn’t like her rush to console xenophobic focus groups with promises of off shore asylum seeker processing in East Timor. These very early comments, when most of us were still in shock and had other things on our minds, signaled that her primary concern was pleasing interest groups the ALP perceived as pivotal to them staying in power, rather than any wider concern for the country.

I didn’t like the “real and realler” Julia idiocy, and instinctively felt that anyone who has to tell the world they’re going to be real now when they weren’t before is probably permanently untrustworthy, and terminally lacking in credibility. I wonder to this day how any self-respecting woman could think it was OK to make such coyly precious announcements about herself, while simultaneously appearing in an airbrushed and highly glamourised state in the Women’s Weekly. I wonder as well, what it says about that woman if she secretly thought the real/unreal Julia thing was crap, but did it anyway because the faceless men told her she should.

I railed vigorously about this at the time and some of my friends told me to shut TF up, anything was allowed because we had to stop Tony Abbott. I didn’t talk to them for a while, on account of what looked to me like their dodgy means to an end morality.

I still can’t get a sense of the “real” Julia. I don’t know who she is or what she stands for, and if she has any wisdom and vision, it’s not apparent to me. Julia Gillard is, as far as I can tell, entirely a product of the ALP machine, and she will do whatever it takes to keep that machine functioning and in power, like all good middle managers should.

It isn’t the country she cares about. It’s the ALP running the country that is her primary concern. In this, Julia Gillard is our First Hollow Woman.

I thought this morning that my emotions on this matter (as opposed to my rational thoughts) are rather like those of the adolescent who suddenly acquires a step-parent. The individual concerned has been around for a while as Mum or Dad’s love interest, and you’ve coped with them because they haven’t actually moved in. But suddenly there’s a marriage, or a move into de facto status, and they’re in the family, taking the place of the real parent who left or died.

You hate the interloper. You can’t help it, they’re not who you want to be there and they wield power you feel they have no right to have. Your life’s mission becomes getting rid of them. In your opinion, they have no authority, moral or otherwise. They got the position because they either pushed the real parent out, or leapt in when there was a sudden vacancy you didn’t have any control over. It’s not fair, you aren’t going to accept it, and anybody who thinks you’ll eventually come round has rocks in their head.

Which is not to say I’m pining for Kevin, because I’m not. I just want somebody I can look up to: it’s lonely when there’s no one at the top to admire.

Gillard is only PM because of those pesky Independents, she doesn’t have a mandate. It is extremely unfair, in my opinion, that we should have been faced with a choice between her and Tony Abbott, no country deserves that fate, although there are those who argue that we get the governments and leaders we deserve.

Taking a step back from my adolescent-like prejudices against the PM, and looking at it woman to woman, I find I still don’t see Gillard as having wisdom and vision. Were I to encounter her in the workplace I would watch my back, keep my distance, and never go for an after work drink with her because she’s not the type who’d consider anything off the record, and watching my mouth when I’m trying to relax is counter productive. She’s a political woman through and through, and she’d give them her life and yours.

To be fair, wisdom is a quality that is sadly lacking across the board in our politics. It seems to have become negatively associated with the ageing process, although some claim to find wisdom in the eyes of the newborn. Either way, it doesn’t have much attraction for the masters and mistresses of our political universe. Wisdom is unfashionable. A choice was made between wisdom and focus groups and the latter won hands down. Common sense was collateral damage.

As for their vision, well, that seems to be entirely restricted to their vision of their own potential power. That has quite possibly always been the case with politicians. I’m scared to posit a past when leaders were really leaders, and the people who elected them were far more deserving of quality and wisdom than are we.

15 Responses to “Julia Gillard: our First Hollow Woman.”

  1. David Horton April 3, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    “Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass
    Or rats’ feet over broken glass
    In our dry cellar

    Shape without form, shade without colour,
    Paralysed force, gesture without motion”

    TS Eliot clearly anticipated our Julia did he not? I too have given her every chance, waited for a hint of emotion, a whisper of genuine feeling, a shadow of belief, a first tentative footstep towards achieving her vision for Australia. But there is nothing. The grim irony, and the sheer nastiness, of her attack on several million Green voters as having “no values” was the final straw for me.


    • Jennifer Wilson April 3, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

      Ah, but she wept in the United States Congress,
      When she recalled them landing on the moon.

      This is the way the world ends
      Not with a bang but a whimper…


  2. gerard oosterman April 3, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    I agree, but hate saying it too loud. The alternative is even worse. A man whose hate pours out so unabated. Howard’s days are still too close a memory.
    Where has imagination escaped to, or, where are the ideals?
    It’s going to be a long winter.
    Still, our Balmain from years ago, has now turned green. Who would have thought that?


  3. PAUL WALTER April 3, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    The screening process for political parties as the bottom of a lot of it. You don’t get past preselection with the big parties if you’ve displayed signs of independent coherent or lateral thinking, altho you might get levered in as the honorable member for some foreign country, like Michael Danby or Mark Arbib, represent absentee landlords in the mining industry, like Mar’n Ferguson, or agribusiness, if you are Barnaby Joyce. Much more of Walpole’s England’s pocket boroughs and rotten boroughs, than i think we know.
    Don’t to be upset at the disquieting sensation you feel, Jennifer- it just means your bullshit detector is still functioning, althoughthe symptoms seem alarming, this marvellous apparatus may mean the difference between failure and survival.
    An obscure example that says much for our politics came actually came from a Gillard opposite number, the other week.
    Julie Bishop caught plagiarising stuff on climate change- again!


  4. gerard oosterman April 4, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    If things are a bit hollow, I wonder if the time has come to get a good solide think-tank. Bunnings have a large one on special. Check it out, Julia.


  5. Sam Jandwich April 4, 2011 at 11:01 am #


    I must say I have some lingering sympathy for Julia Gillard – although the source of this is mainly the position she has found herself in rather than the woman herself.

    Gerard O yes you are right, the Howard days are still with us in a sense. Julia Gillard sharpened her political teeth at a time when Australian politics was first degenerating into a “win at all costs” game, and where no statement would be made in public until the polls, focus groups, and other social research had confirmed that doing so would win over a cohort of swinging voters (like former one nation supporters, for example). I think there is a living, breathing person in there somewhere, but Julia is still operating very much within the same bounds that made the Howard years so stultifying, and so we rarely get to see who she really is. And for good reason, with Abbott on the other side of the table. The pressure on her must be intense.

    What worries me though, is that I do believe the only glimpse of the real Julia I have seen was when she rather gauchly announced to the G20 (i think it was??) that international politics was not her passion. Yes, she is that woman in the office who makes a record of everything you say so that she can use it later on. But she is also the thin-lipped, humourless woman who still smokes and who enjoys American sitcoms about dysfunctional families, as a proxy for her own relationships which always seem to fail for reasons unfathomable to her.

    Good men sometimes win out (yes, I watched that film “the lives of others” last night…). I am thinking either Greg Combet or Tony Burke. Or if Abbott does (god forbid) emerge from this quagmire as Prime Minister, his party will quickly realise how much damage he is doing to the country and replace him with the Turnbull. But one way or another I think we’re in for an extended grind.


    • Jennifer Wilson April 4, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

      Article on the Drum this morning by John Hewson lamenting lack of moral authority in our leaders!!
      It’s the zeitgeist.
      She smokes????


  6. gerard oosterman April 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    The problem as always is,that in my enthusiasm to see and believe in magic, I end up bestowing goodness and sweetness on things and people, where, if I was more composed or realistic, I might observe that there are none or at best very little magic .
    At the moment Julia has totally collapsed in my ‘magic’ stakes and am again crestfallen why I didn’t get a better grip on her earlier on.
    On the other hand Abbott never had any magic or any wonder about him. I see him crystal clear.
    Of course, Greg Combet is different and I agree with Sam Jandwich that he might be the future saviour.
    Perhaps, the nature of politics is the antithesis of magic in any shape or form. I am still honing my detection skill on false magic, just in case.


  7. PAUL WALTER April 4, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

    I feel a little for Gillard tho, given some of the rubbish and vilification directed toward the woman. Last week a subject for anal intercourse courtesy of Bob Brown, according to Abbott and co. Today, an ad hominem of near Neanderthal magnitude from Mark Latham, that sunk to the same level as last fortnight, this time rehashing the “Barren woman” meme.
    There is ample justification for cricticism of Labor just now, not just Gillard, who is only one component of the mechanism.
    We could start with the sleazy run of attacks on the Greens over the last week or so, including the slanderous anti semitic theme.
    Enough real issues but politics is run on an unspeakable level in this country at the moment, issues take a back seat to infantile abuse and you just disengage with a sense of nausea and depression, again.


  8. PAUL WALTER April 5, 2011 at 1:23 am #

    Back from QA, a much more dignified show tonight, in contrast to the vile interview of dignified Brown later on Latteline. As for Gillard, one point raised elsewhere is that she is at least having a dip at a climate change scheme.


  9. gerard oosterman April 5, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    Prime ministers seem to be much better at taking the bull by the horn when they are not prime ministers. Look indeed at the QA of last night. Why oh why can’t Julia say that she changed her mind?
    She has an easy opponent to outshine with Abbott who seems to delight being amongst vegetables and offal. It will be much more difficult if M.Turnbull gets the leadership.


  10. Marilyn Shepherd April 11, 2011 at 12:07 am #

    When I first met her she was babbling about stopping refugees in their own countries no matter how dangerous it was for them.

    Then she babbled that an homosexual man facing stoning to death if he was deported to Iran didn’t matter because he was not a “genuine refugee”, then I told her to F off when she was babbling with the repulsive Jeremy Cordeaux about what a lark it would be to turn refugees into the sea.

    Julia is the coldest, female John Howard I have ever met and I have despised her since I almost tore the hair off her head on behalf of the nice homosexual Iranian way back in 2002.


  11. PAUL WALTER April 11, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    Jennifer Wilson, “She smokes????.” Definitely the sign of a woman who has recklessly slipped her moral compass and is on the road to unredeemable perdition.
    Bring back chastity belts, scolds bridle and spankings.
    Remember Monty Python.
    “If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck it must be a …(fill in dots)”.

    Marilyn, you’re in fine voice this weegend!
    Jennifer, meet another feisty female who has also done the vigil at Woomera.
    Fought a good fight for human rights, a bit of a soft centre, under the combative exterior.


    • Jennifer Wilson April 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

      I know, how judgmental am I?? Shame on me, it’s not as if there isn’t enough to complain about without getting stuck into her personal habits. And many years ago was a smoker too – it’s true there’s none worse than the reformed.
      Nice to meet you, Marilyn – I’ve seen you on the Drum fighting the good fight –



  1. By the grace of Gillard and others we will end up bring universally hated | ikners.com - April 21, 2011

    […] Julia Gillard: our First Hollow Woman.(noplaceforsheep.com) […]


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