@nancycato1 tribute to our shy first female PM


Video by @mytwocentsandme Musical insert by @krONik 

by Nancy Cato

30 June 2013

My darling Granddaughters Olivia and Hannah,

You are now 4 and 2 years old respectively and as my Nanna (your Great Great Grandmother) and I started to discuss matters of great importance when I reached the age of 5, I’m  making sure I pass on this family tradition in plenty of time!

And today I want to tell you about Julia.

You’ve heard me talk about her lots, and up until Wednesday 26 June 2013 she was our Prime Minister.

Yes – our first female Prime Minister.

But first let me give you a little bit of background so you understand the historical importance of that fact.

It was in 1945 when my Nanna broached the subject of ‘Being a Lady’, largely, I suspect because she could see I loved getting my knees dirty on the river bank and kicking a football and playing marbles in the mud. But I can assure you, as soon as she felt she’d done her duty by directing me to include more ‘ladylike’ pursuits in my daily routine our discussions turned to ‘Being a Woman’.

Now you two will remember I’ve talked to you about the political discussions I had at the age of 5 with my Dad (your Great Grandfather). Remember I talked to you about the need to care about people living in poverty, or those living in fear of their lives or having nothing? And remember I talked to you about voting, and how lucky we are here because we all get a chance to have a say in how our country is run? And that it’s called Democracy?

Well! Can you believe that when my Nanna was old enough to vote, she wasn’t allowed to?

Do you know why?

No Hannah, it wasn’t because she’d been naughty.

It was because she was a Woman.

Yes – a woman, just like the two of you will be one day.

Back then, women were not considered to be equal in importance to men, and you know what? Some people still believe that – even today!

Yes – I know, Olivia! It is silly. And yes, you’re quite right, it is wrong.

But history tells us that every few years someone is born to help the world overcome its foibles and ignorance. (I’ll send you a separate list of names you can Google – names like Nelson Mandela for one.)

In my Nanna’s day, that someone was Emmeline Pankhurst – and one day soon, you and I will talk about the Suffragette Movement in England and what a remarkable woman Emmeline was. But that’s another story. The fact remains that even here in Australia, in this wonderful country of ours, women had to wait until 1903 to be allowed to vote – and even then, there were conditions imposed.

Well no, Hannah, boys couldn’t vote either, but the difference is they could vote as soon as they came of age – and girls couldn’t. It didn’t matter how smart the girls were or how much they understood. They were seen as inferior.

No, of course you’re not, Livvy. But the world is still waking up to things like that.

And it’s for that very reason I want to talk to you about Julia Gillard, our first female Prime Minister of Australia, because for me she is one of ‘the someones’ who in this era, was born to help the world’s women overcome some of its ignorance. She dared to challenge the notion that women are not capable of holding the highest office in the land – even though many people saw her as inferior.

This honour did not come easily to Julia nor without its cost, even at the very beginning of her tenure. You see, Julia was shy!

Livvy, do you remember how you used to feel really shy about meeting new people? It was awful wasn’t it… really hard… and you just wanted to run or hide behind Dad? Well Julia as a child was like that too. But the really hard part for Julia was that she didn’t ever completely overcome that sense of shyness. She excelled at school, became a lawyer and entered politics with her fierce intellect – and still remained shy. And here she was – the most important political figure in the land having to meet new people every day, some from far away countries – and still feeling painfully shy.

But she did it. Although from humble beginnings herself with no sense of a ‘Born-to-Rule’ mentality, Julia greeted people with grace, dignity and humility and hid her shyness as best she could.

One day, darlings, we’ll discuss the political reasons of how and why Julia became our first female Prime Minister. There are many reasons and they are varied and some of them extremely controversial. You know that I, like your parents, want you both to be free to develop your own opinions about everything that concerns you and the events that are taking place in the world as you grow up; events that will impact on your freedom, your beliefs and your rights. And no doubt one day – hopefully in school, you will study the political implications of the rise and fall of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and make up your own minds about the rights and wrongs of it.

But there is no doubt in my mind that as you study the history of events in the political life of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, you will see that many people (including your Nanna) have cause to believe that as a woman, she endured, through the Press, the Parliament and the Public, the most horrendous and consistent barrage of bullying, ridicule and misogyny – unparalleled in Australian history.

But first I really want you to consider Julia as a person. A human being – a female one – with real blood flowing through her veins; with thoughts and feelings and desires and attachments just like the rest of us.

Of course she didn’t do what everyone wanted. Who does? And of course she made mistakes. Who doesn’t?

Yes – she had a strong Australian accent. (I’ve never actually heard her voice darlings, but as a lip-reader whenever I saw her face to face on television I could see by the movement of her mouth that, yes she strangled a few vowels – but then, there’s a highly acclaimed female interviewer on the ABC whose vowels are constantly put to death far more ferociously.)

Yes, she chose to remain childless – as many other women do – but Julia was publicly ridiculed for it. She was labelled by at least one man as ‘deliberately barren’, while others made suggestions on radio and television about how she might be dealt with – suggestions that you are not quite old enough yet to understand.

Yes, she chose to live in an unmarried state with her partner – as countless other women do – but was then attacked for her morals.

And you can but imagine what those who followed the Religion-of-Anything-but-Tolerance made of her Atheism.

As a woman with red hair she chose her clothes and her glasses accordingly – always meticulously groomed but pronounced ‘frumpy’ or ‘maiden Auntish’ by her detractors.

Even her poor nose was mocked. One day I shall tell you about a male Prime Minister of the past, one Paul Keating, but I doubt I’ll ever be able to relate to you what I think he’d have done to the perpetrators had his nose been mocked.

If she fell over, it was because of her poor choice of shoes. And if she stood for hours answering inane questions it was because she lacked the nous to sit down.

But did that make it right that while enduring the death of her most beloved father , a second-rate, has-been, shock-jock radio announcer could say in a speech that Julia Gillard’s father had died of shame… because of her?

Can you imagine anything more viciously cruel Livvy? Hannah?

But endure it she did. Month after month she stoically endured what many women have said would have driven them out of their minds.

Forget that she had negotiating skills to make a butterfly befriend an elephant.

Forget that she could rattle off details of the most complicated sections of everybody’s portfolios, because she was on top of her game.

Forget that she made an historic speech in a parliamentary sitting against misogyny that resounded around the world and back again with over one million hits.

Forget the hundreds of pieces of legislation she pushed through whilst leg-roped by a Hung Parliament.

Forget the considerable and historic reforms that she introduced to Education (Gonski), Disability (NDIS), Welfare (Pensions), IT (NBN) and Climate Change (Price on Carbon) – to name but a few.


Women of Courage: PM Julia Gillard applauded by US Secretary of State -Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama in Washington. Picture: Gary Ramage Source: News Limited

Julia Gillard had become the Leader of the Pack, putting up with everything her detractors threw at her – physically (a sandwich comes to mind), mentally and spiritually – and many men and  women could not cope with that fact.

Julia became the magnet for ignorance, hate, bigotry and sexism – rearing their brave heads no higher than 1 centimetre out of the hole from which they hid – and she largely slapped them down, perhaps unknowingly invoking the metaphysical truth that negative qualities disappear in the face of courage.

She had courage in spades and fearlessness, resilience and Stateswomanlike qualities. And on top of that, an intellectual ability that infuriated those who could not understand it, could not count past eleventy, or could not agree with her politics, her gender or both.

History will come to show that after enduring three years of unprecedented attacks, Julia was ultimately bullied out of office, to the shame and embarrassment of all of us with half a decent bone in our bodies. Some say on one side it was for the sake of winning the next election and on the other side that it was because she was, well, a woman – and any or all of that may well prove to be true.

Darlings, Julia is no longer the prime Minister of Australia, but she is a woman whom I and many fellow Australians and indeed spectators around the world have grown to admire and respect and yes, love.

She is the pioneer of women holding High Office in this country and as such will inspire generations of young women from any background to be brave, meet challenges and show that they too are the equals of any men.

And as I, your Nanna, a disabled pensioner, express my thanks and gratitude to Julia Gillard for her dedicated work and sacrifice – I’d like you to reserve any judgement of her, until you are a bit older and can think about her achievements for yourselves, as so many have refused to do.

May she go on from strength to strength and find peace and happiness in whatever she chooses to do from here – be it in Australia or anywhere in the world.

Julia Gillard’s legacy of reform will live on and this country will thank her. She has stirred our collective consciousness. She has not only made it clear that women have issues particular to women, which should be controlled by women, not men – but she has paved the way for the next female Prime Minister… and the next…and the next…

Who knows, Livvy or Hannah, that could be you!

All love,


Last word goes to the very honourable proud father of daughters, Mr Oakeshott.


Read More:

A Julia Gillard Keepsake

An accolade for Julia Gillard: a fine prime minister

Julia Gillard tells of ‘privilege’ of being first female PM

Open Letter to the Honourable former Prime Minister Julia Gillard

An in the moment comment on the fall of our first female PM 

Dear Ex PM Julia Gillard

Julia Gillard – A Trail Blazer

It’s the injustice of it all

I am Julia Gillard

My political malaise

Labor politics: it can be bloody brutal

The Rehistorification of Julia Gillard by @firstdogonmoon


@firstdogonmoo    n,

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  1. Thank you Nancy. Julia Gillard’s legacy is yet to be realised.

  2. love your letter so much, tears rolled down my face.

    • I think many of us are in the same boat, umi… but it’s healthy and always ultimately makes us feel better. Thank you for your kind words.

      • I was tearing up while reading this tribute, grateful that someone was putting Julia’s time as PM in context for the young women who come after. It was only after I finished that I realised just who was writing. Thank you Nancy in more ways than just this, because in 1966, when I was five, YOU were my hero. Seems like you still are..

  3. Nancy,

    Bravo! You have an innate ability to get to the point like no other. Thank you!

  4. Well said, Nancy. Where to from here? How can we ever turn to the Labor Party now to deliver all the important social policies for the poor, disadvantaged and weaker members of the society we live in? Julia Gillard PM was the bravest person I’ve ever seen in political life. Was it because, like Lindy Chamberlain, that she never broke down and cried in public over her maltreatment that she was so hated by Australia? You’ve got to give it to the people of Australia, who are so pure of heart and without mistakes, for their degree of passionate hatred that they can display. Don’t forget the Larry Pickerings, journalists, commentators, including female, who have never missed an opportunity to criticise, fail to acknowledge her legislation and torment her with obscenities on a daily basis. I sincerely wish peace for her, and may her star continue to rise. She has too much to offer to the rest of the world to disappear from view.

    • If the ALP does not heed the sentiments of its followers, JG4PM… it will become a spent force very quickly and an alternative will emerge that really does take care of the ‘poor, disadvantaged and weaker members of the society we live in’ as you so aptly put it. We have lost some very fine people and the rebuilding will be very telling. Let’s hope the brightest of our young will put up their hands.

    • I have just read a reply why they removed my comment from the conversation for being critical of Michelle Grattan for her continued and personal criticism of Julia Gillard.
      So I thank you for saying and paying compliments to a very fine Lady. Julia Gillard will be long remembered while Michelle Grattan will be forgotten for her sarcasm and lack of grace.

      • hear hear TEX Michelle Grattan and many others in the media should hang their heads in shame. Julia Gillard is still a Strong, intelligent , inspirational, and a gracious woman . She will be long remembered by many good people of Australia..

  5. Thank you, Nancy.

    Fortunately, time lapse before reading, three days of grief for this remarkable women, today was strong and accepting, sufficiently to read.

    Admirers of Julia Gillard, I imagine have all, reverted to that little child within to comprehend, understand. So many, despite gender, have worked tirelessly, selflessly, with tenacity and dedication to a role, to those standards demonstrated by our first Prime Minister, few, I suspect, could surpass. Sadly, many too have been treated unfairly but again, not to this degree.

    Under the scrutiny of over twenty million people, Julia’s composure inspirational and yes, I agree, a shy person but with a positive composition and faithful sense of humor.

    It is conflicting as an ALP supporter to see the polls today. That little child wishes to wrap my arms and convey the love so many felt, that the polls are not indicative of our admiration but a sad indictment of too much of our society.

    Gender played a role, but so too the recognition of her opposites, Julia was formidable because of her genuine, honest, yes honest, intellect. Juliar was born to negate her true worth and alter the non independent’s perception immeasurably and to Australia’s detriment.

    The premature, collective loss of talent from our parliament the past week may be in part, mostly, be attributed to the destructive dialogue adopted by the LNP, Murdoch and associated media the past three years and Mr Rudd’s, will we say, bad sportsmanship. This rhetoric is influencing our society, our children.

    So your words of wisdom, Nancy, give hope and assurance, may all who read converse to their family, young and old.

    • Suzi you should be writing your own piece instead of congratulating me (or perhaps you just did!) Wonderfully said and I support your thoughts entirely. Let us work hard to support the policies that will help the very readers that much of the press has attempted to brainwash. Conflict indeed… but it will be resolved. Truth and honesty always defeat deceit… eventually.

  6. Janice Ford. says

    You did her proud. That is just the way I see her. I will relay your story to my grandchildren. All of them not just the girls. I’m sure Julia appreciates your loyalty and positive images.

  7. Andrew Sutton says

    The first female PM she achieved so very much and was treated so appallingly with so little respect this will go down in Australian history as one of our most shameful episodes. I wish her all the best in life, she has so much to be proud of – she is right up there with Chiflely, Whitlam, Keating.

  8. Gary Kalladmae says

    Thanks Nancy that was a great tribute and thank you to our first female PM.

  9. My eyes prickled reading this, Nancy. I don’t have any granddaughters, but I have four grandsons, aged 2, 3, 3 and 5, and I will share this with them. The rights of all people is both a gender issue and a human issue. That’s how I raised my sons, and it is how I approach my grandsons, thankfully with the environment well set by their parents. Trailblazers are, sadly, always the most villified; more a reflection of us the people than it ever is of the trailblazer. There is no doubt in my mind, that as time passes and women and men gain more equality and experiential insight, that Julia Gillard will remain a beacon of hope, determination and courage to ‘fight the good fight’ from which all people will benefit.

    Thank you, Nancy.

    • As always Hannah, your words are beautiful and true and the world will be grateful that your Grandsons canl benefit from your wisdom. Thank you!

  10. You left out: “And do you know what shy Julia did, the very day she stood up against the mean things the opposition leader had been saying about her? She forced single mothers to endure the humility of the dole and gave them $100 less a payment. That seems a little bit hypocritical, doesn’t it, Hannah?! But that’s okay, her legions ignored it because they wanted their figurehead so very badly. Which was what Julia was hoping they would do.”

  11. Wish I could have said it as you do. I was also bought up with the belief that as a woman, I could do what I desire. Had a mother, born 1907 and grandmother before her, that never even thought of bowing to any man. Loved my father and grandfather as well.

    Never ever her gender discussed when it come to how one lived their life.

  12. Thea Calzoni says

    Dear Julia,
    I loved your work as PM. Good on you for the CPRS, the NBN and Gonski. On behalf of my son and others like him with a disability, I thank you for shepherding the NDIS and securing bipartisan support for a levy.

    I wanted to bring a bunch of friends to cheer you and thank you on the last day of Parliament, but the circumstances weren’t right for that in the end.

    I am dismayed at journalism that simplisticly thrives on conflict, yet in the contest of ideas and representations fails to contextualise or offer a critique. An example is the awful ‘ditch the witch’ rally shown without a countering perspective. This weakened us all. I feel wounded by that and the relentless destabilisation campaign mounted against you. It’s hard to face such blind faithlessness.

    I believe you will be an important beacon in the future, possibly in the legal field, but I hope you will take the chance to have some fun (and your capacity for that has often been on display in a charming and modest way). I’m an unashamed fan.

  13. You have said it beautifully and powerfully, Fed up. Keep spreading that message and thank you!

  14. Richo, QLD says

    Nancy, I hope one of your descendants reads this, years from now, and has to ask if anybody knows what a “shock-jock” might possibly be. Bonus points if nobody knows,

    A wonderful piece, for which thanks.

    • I shall make it a condition of my Will that they ALL have to read it. Haha! Fortunately I think ShockJocks are slowly becoming a thing of the past and hopefully free speech will take on new meaning.

  15. Nancy what a heartfelt tribute – I too am grateful and thankful for Julia Gillard in so many ways. I have two daughters who will grow up to understand the difference she has made for Australia and Australia’s women. I am still tearful as to her removal from political life and the treatment she received from within the Labor party and also the press. I will miss her but her legacy will be here forever in the history books. Thank you and wishing you all the best.

  16. Wonderful tribute Nancy. I couldn’t believe that others couldn’t see the wonderful, compassionate and capable woman that she was. I am nearly 60 and thought we fought our battles back in the 70’s but there is still so far to go. Thank you again. I fear the treatment of Julia Gillard will mean that I never see another female PM in MY lifetime.

    • I wasn’t allowed to be a Footy Mascot in the 40s Denyse…. because I was a girl. We’ve come a long way… and I think you WILL see another female Prime Minister in your lifetime. I intend to and I’m 73. Ha!

  17. As usual Nancy, you have found the right words and the right vehicle to get your message across. Such a shame that Julia Gillard did not have someone as adept at getting messages out, as you obviously are, to help her sell her wonderful reforms. History will be very kind to her. The world already recognises the fact that we had a world class woman representing this amazing country. Just such a shame that some of the boys couldn’t cope with it and actually spread their poisonous invective to a few women as well. I’m really sorry that JG did not get the opportunity to test the polls at the only poll that counts. I still feel there would have been egg on a lot of faces!

    • We will never know the answer to that dear Lorraine. But there is not a doubt in my mind that Julia will use her talents to go on to contribute globally and significantly. How telling that will be.

  18. Beautifully said as always, Nancy. My 85 year old mother is the niece of Clarrie Fallon, a legendary figure in the ALP, so we are to a small degree, a family steeped in Labor history. My mother has borne witness to the highs and lows of Labor politics from a childhood listening to Uncle Clarrie as he consulted with my grandmother – his sister, my mother’s mother – on the verandah of the family home in Bundaberg. Nothing surprises her except perhaps the Dismissal.

    The day Julia Gillard was sworn in as Prime Minister, I rang my mother to see how she her day had gone. Imagine my surprise when she reeled off the names of at least ten friends who had, unknown to me, spent several hours visiting her that day. “Why was this?” I asked. My mother’s answer was simple. These older women, all her contemporaries, had gathered to witness the rise of Australia’s first female Prime Minister because “We never thought we’d live to see this day”.

    For this marvelous group of women, there was a quiet satisfaction that they had not just witnessed history, they had felt a part of it. And I greatly thank Julia Gillard for that gift.

    • Oh Leigh – what a lovely piece of family history you’ve just recounted. Thank you so much for sharing it… and I too am grateful that I lived to see an Australian female Prime Minister…. who knows…. may even get to see the second. ;0D

  19. Mary Anderson says

    Thank you so much Nancy… a perfectly beautiful tribute – I have passed it on to my daughter and granddaughter who is just 6 for her to keep and ponder when she gets older. Julia is free now and we can all sit back and watch her soar to new and more amazing heights.

  20. Thank you Mary. And yes – we shall all look forward to watching her fly. Her sacrifice shall not be in vain.

  21. anne louise says

    I’ll get back to you when I compose myself.

  22. Noelle Kebby says

    I have no doubt Julia Gillard was the most competent, charming, decent, and honest politician to grace our parliament.

    • I have no argument with any of that Noelle… makes it all the harder doesn’t it. But… let’s use it to demonstrate how important that is.

  23. Wow! What an article. As a 19 year old who looks up to people like Julia, I would like to thank you for writing this. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Xo

    • And Wow! to you for bothering to write and say so. I can remember when I was 19 – it was delicious. Make the very most of it… and be emboldened by Julia and her courage. Thank you Carls.

  24. meg fletcher says

    Thank you Julia. Sorry we were not ready for you. I am one of many who are very proud of you.

  25. anne louise says

    OK, I’m ready now. What I value the most about Julia Gillard is her honesty and commitment to get a good job done for the good of the nation. (There’s probably a term for that).
    I am forever grateful of the legacy she has left. Not only the ground work and the legislation that she has achieved, but her demeanor as a politician and a Prime Minister. I have two sons, 23 and 19, and a daughter, 16. My children have seen integrity in politics. They have seen genuine concern, compassion and action to repair that which is not right in their world.
    PM Julia Gillard has been criticized for making mistakes, but I’m not sure that a difference of opinion constitutes a mistake.
    On the issue of Asylum Seekers, she set up and attempted to implement the recommendations of the Huston panel, but was stymied by the opposition.
    She was criticized for being anti gay marriage, yet her government passed numerous pieces of legislation against discrimination of gays. She stated that Labor’s official position was that the community at large did not embrace gay marriage. She did not say that she opposed gay marriage personally.
    She was criticized for putting single mothers onto the Newstart Allowance. John Howard did that. It took effect in 2006. (Few people acknowledge that fathers were part of this cohort). Since then anyone starting on Parenting Payments were subject to a different rate than those who had been receiving the benefit before July, 2006. We did not hear any outcry prior to PM Gillard’s government applying the Grandfather Clause. As a single parent who received (nearly always) nothing in Child Support, I know how difficult it is trying to survive on a low income. Few people factored in Family Tax Benefits and the ability to earn more before allowances were affected. Fewer still factored in the training services which were made available. And hardly anyone recognised the benefits of a working parent, both to the children and the parent. We won’t do away with generational welfare until we do the hard yards.
    Many people are thankful for Julia Gillard paving the way for their daughters and grand daughters. I am thankful for her paving the way for my two sons and one daughter, and their children.

    • anne louise says

      And I forgot to say that PM J Gillard allowed Labor MPs a conscience vote on Gay Marriage.

    • I’m so glad you took your time to compose yourself to write such a thought-provoking piece, Anne Louise. I’m sure that Julia will get to see these comments one day and she’ll be remarkably heartened by them. You certainly have your head around the facts and are able to articulate in a balanced way – regardless of the struggle that you yourself have known. Thank you so much.

    • Well said Anne Louise, I’m not in that situation myself but that change to Newstart did bother me quite a lot. So good to hear it’s history and the reasons why Julia thought it should continue, I had wondered if it would be something like that. Also that there were offsets to balance the leger just as there were for the “carbon tax” which I notice the media are now happily calling the price on carbon.

  26. I believe the mistakes included the CEF and MRRT. I think they are saying, if the right does not want it, having the guts to go ahead is a mistake..

    Then the new marine parks is another. Oh, yes, action on the Gonski report was rushed, ignoring the fact Gillard was laying the groundwork for over 5 years, and all have been consulted all along the way. Appears some how the Premiers knew nothing about it, in spite of their Educations Officers meeting regularly with Garrett.

    The list of doing things wrong, is limitless when it comes to Abbott.

    Did not do one thing right.

    Of course, not making the surplus, when circumstances changed is another. I will agree, that maybe the promise should not have been made, but everything possible was done, to reach a surplus.

    It is like promising your kids, they will be having a picnic on Sunday, prepare everything, but cannot leave the house because of pouring rain. Having the kids accused you of breaking your promise. Makes as much sense.

    No, a woman PM has to be perfect in all they do.

    The PM made mistakes, when she attempted to put essential policies into place, that some found not to their taste. Example Gina.

  27. *STANDS*


    • Helen you have a wonderful sense of Theatre – and I can certainly relate to that. Julia deserves your standing ovation. She’s received quite a few here and certainly more overseas but it won’t end there. My guess is that you’ll be saying in the years to come… ‘Well look at Julia on the World Stage. She was our first female Prime Minister and I stood and applauded her back then for her humility, her courage and the light she shone for the young women of her day.”

  28. I will be passing this on to everyone.Nancy’s story says it all. Thank you dear Nancy Cato. I too am a Labor supporter currently grieving over the constant bad treatment doled out to Julia. I just wish her well in the supportive arms of her partner, her family and close friends. She will need time to recover from this extraordinary three years of support from some, betrayal by others. Thank heavens for the support also given her by Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott. It is wonderful that Jenny Macklin is in Newcastle today to launch the Disability Welfare Policy that was so dear to Julia’s heart. My best wishes to all of the contributors. Like Helen, I stand and applaud!

    • Thank you for your kind and wise words Anne. I share your sadness that Julia was not able to launch her Disability Policy – but those of us who witnessed her efforts in that area, as in so many others, will certainly know and attest to its origin and ensure that knowledge stays alive. Let us take strength from her strength and fight for a more equitable Australia – in every way.

  29. gorgeousdunny1 says

    Thank you for your moving piece on our marvellous Prime Minister, brought down by the shallownessand selfishness of other political forces, a compliant and corrupt media.

    She was gracious enough in her farewell address to praise the great majority of Caucus and her ministry who boldly stuck by her as she navigated a path to integrity in public administration and fairness and opportunity in social programs. She also said she held no disappointment against those of her colleagues who finally surrendered to the relentless pressure.

    Andrew Elder was of the belief that such was the quality of her program delivery that she would ultimately have won, irrespective of how savage the polls were currently. Others, even those among her closest supporters, felt that her personal reputation had been damaged so badly that she could never recover. Nobody will know now. But to satisfy the popular clamor, a megalomaniac narcissist has been re-installed to the leadership. That has led to about one third of an outstanding ministry have resigned or retired. In fact, it is a remarkable irony that in 6 years of competent Labor administration, the only minister to lose his job for impropriety was Joel Fitzgibbonj, the most public of the Rudd underminers.

    It may even be enough to spare us the barbarity of an Abbott government, a blessing almost of itself. But it is a huge price that both Labor and public integrity have been asked to pay, even apart from the destruction of our greatest modern PM.

    I placed a Comment on his superb post. The concluding paragraph is relevant to your post.
    To the Lisa Simpsons of our nation, you have been warned. Never expect to be loved or respected. But go ahead anyway for the good of our nation and humanity.

    • We meet again gorgeousdunny1 – only this time under sadder circumstances. Thank you for taking the time to comment here. I agree with everything you say and certainly always supported Andrew Elder in his unflinching view that Julia could have won because of her range of policies. I share your view that we must do anything we can to prevent a wholesale slaughter by an Abbott Government of these historic social reforms. If that means taking the pragmatic solution in the short term, so be it. By holding that view I do not believe I am sacrificing personal integrity or principle but rather acting in what I think is in the best interests of the less advantaged people in our country and allowing a long-term solution of principle to rise to the surface. I loved your concluding paragraph!

      • gorgeousdunny1 says

        Nancy, I heard today that Rudd was actually claiming credit for NDIS. Apparently he thought of it some time just before he got toppled. Well, if it helps the government to get over the line and ownership leads to him standing by it… I doubt that Gillard would lose any sleep over it. All she wanted was the policies. Anyone can snatch the glory just as long as they accept the need.

        Let’s hope he develops sufficient spine to hang on to the education reforms, too. I have been very encouraged by the high number of females (nine) in Cabinet. It would not surprise me if there was considerable firmness and resistance to Rudd’s moves to take control. He wouldn’t have learned, but those others would have.

      • Yes I saw that today and once again I agree with you. Ownership is nowhere near as important as Disability Care itself functioning properly. The real point is that we all know the effort Julia put into the realisation of it and nothing can take that away from her. The main challenge now is selling the reforms (that at worst may be chipped around the edges a bit.) We’ve lost an enormous amount of informed experience and the new kids will have to get their heads around a lot of information very quickly. I’m confident the Education reforms won’t be tampered with too much and very pleased about the number of women in the Cabinet – there is certainly some strength there. Tanya and Penny don’t take any nonsense from anyone, for a start. On the whole there is a lot of good work to build on and it remains to be seen how far the Opposition can flesh out THAT pamphlet.

  30. Wow, Nancy, you know I love you and always have, but to read this story you wrote to my nieces made me understand further why what you say means so much to so many. Love you always, your son xx

  31. Wow, back Andre. I think you know what your message has done to your Mother’s heart…. and I’m never afraid to declare publicly how much I love you, too. Thank you darling – it means a great deal that you thought to do this.

  32. Yes, Tanya was much stronger tonight on qanda. Much more assertive. As for Penny, we know the strength that woman has.

    We seen Tony ask Mirabella what he thought about them and Murdoch. Asked her outright.

    Both Cash and Bishop, have over cooked it with their gory talk.,

    The other was the media, emphasizing that there NDIS credit belongs tp Rudd. Needs to be reminded that even sleigh of hand comments, are off the table, when it comes to Gillard.

  33. Nancy thankyou for your beautiful words to your granddaughters. I’m sure they will appreciate the legacy you and Julia both leave.

    • Ah Robyn… we have a family tradition of honouring our Grandmothers and I certainly hope I help to keep that going. Thank you for your very kind words but I doubt I could ever be bracketed in terms of legacy with Julia. ;0D

  34. Jonathon says

    I agree with the spirit of this letter, certainly the Gillard government was the most productive I can think of, and all under a hung parliament to boot.

    But I’m not sure relaying half truths to your grandchildren would be all that helpful. The reason *some* women could not vote in the first federal election in 1901 was because that election was held under state law, since there was no federal system at the time. Some of those colonies still had not granted the vote to women, some had. The second federal election was technically the first real election under the federal system. Both men and women over 21 were granted the vote, I’m not aware of any special conditions imposed on women that weren’t also imposed on men.

    I think you should also convey to your grandchildren that for much of the time women could not vote in the old colonies, most men could not vote either! You had to be rich before you could vote, if you had enough money you could even get up to four votes!! In the case of WA women had the vote just 7 years after men got the vote, the difference for the older colonies like NSW and VIC was much higher. In Victoria men over 21 could vote from 1857, women over 21 got the vote in 1908.

    The Australian Electoral Commission has a great timeline page of voting in Australia –

    Perhaps you could also inform your grandchildren that while men and women over 21 could vote in federal elections, only men over 18 were drafted to war. That is to say, men aged between 18 and 21 were required to sacrifice their lives for a democracy they were not allowed to participate in.

    And as for Emmeline Pankhurst, don’t forget to tell your grandchildren she advocated voting rights only for upper class women. And she was also one of the ‘white feather’ ladies, who would shame men and teenage boys into enlisting (and dying) in the great war by handing them white feathers in public. She was also a vocal advocate for enforced conscription.

    Your letter seems to infer women were subjected to harsher discrimination than men, I honestly think telling half the story to your grandchildren does them no service. I also think, without doubt, the Gillard government will be written into history as one of the greatest since Whitlam, in fact possibly even more productive. Her reforms were not just trivial pieces of legislation but major far reaching changes that will positively affect generations to come. Can we celebrate her achievements, *and* keep a sane view of history and the various difficulties both men and women have had to face over the years?

    • Thank you for your comments Jonathon – I appreciate you taking the time to ‘voice’ them here. Naturally as the children get older I shall go into the greater details of history with them – and I shall ensure I give them the facts including the points you raise. Re Emmeline – all social reform has to start somewhere and I’m grateful that she took up such an extraordinarily difficult challenge in her era – in any form. However I shall certainly explore your thoughts with my Granddaughters. And yes – you are quite right, I do believe that there has always been far harsher discrimination of women than men through the ages to the present time. I do however see enormous hope in the attitudes of many of our young people today. I agree with you wholeheartedly re the achievements of the Government under Julia Gillard’s leadership and happily celebrate that fact with you.

  35. As a bloke in his sixties who was bought up in a working class home where politics was discussed over the dinner table I got used to the comings and goings of prime ministers and political parties. Of cause there were events like the Dismissal that are still etched in my mind and even years later can still send my blood pressure rising when it surfaces in conversation. However never have I felt so ashamed of the Australian people as I have with this issue. Well I suppose I shouldn’t generalise but a bloody lot of them.

    Here was a women with a heart as big as an elephant, she had to have to handle the crap that was thrown at her. Every time ‘they’ knocked her down, with the courage of a lion she just brushed it a side and got on with her goals. The goals, to make the country a better place for the less fortunate among us. To give children equal opportunities in education so they have the best chance in life.

    What did the average aussie do? They were led along by the nose, by a sub standard media and bunch of second rate shock jocks. Followed closely by those who thought our PM just wasn’t quite good enough with that working class accent and not a christian and for some worst of all, a woman.

    All one can hope is when the next woman takes office we have the decency to treat her with the respect she is entitled to.

    In my book Prime Minister Gillard you go down not only as one of the best but the most courageous. Best wishes with what ever new path you choose.

    For gods sake don’t leave the country we need people like you here. They’re thin on the ground.

    • Some great thoughts here Chris, thank you. I’m sure they’ll warm ex-Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s heart when she eventually gets to read them. Love your passion and spirit!

  36. That was beautiful thank you Nancy. I have never felt so involved in our country’s future until Julia took over. She has changed things for many women and I believe her legacy will endure for many generations to come.

    • Thank you for your kind comments Belinda. There is no doubt that ex-Prime Minister Julia Gillard has certainly paved the way for change. My cup is always half full and I think the young women of today will pick it all up and run with it… certainly the parents of young daughters have some wonderful material to work with!

  37. I watched Greg Barns, an admirable legal advocate on The Drum tonight, as he cast the runestones of the Ashby and Slipper conspiracies clattering onto the media marble table.
    May it be so.
    The accusation that ‘sour taste in the mouth’ politics should no longer be ignored by the electorate because of the mainstream media’s ‘news of omission’ surely must be shown up to be valid.
    Kudos to Margo Kingston and Independent Australia for the excellent articles and forensic unravelling of the threads of this investigation so far.

    • Yes – Eldred, Greg was a breath of fresh air… unleashing and airing much public frustration in his demands for justice in so many areas. I too value the excellent articles and Blogposts on so many websites and must say that my article would not have been written had it not been suggested by Margo Kingston.

  38. Ben Chifley’s 1949 speech “The Light on the Hill” has been trampled on by too many so called Labor Party people: too many gutless, non-visionary men and women in our current society. Julia, while looking to “The Light on the Hill” has indeed become the “Light On the Hill” in her own right.I,as a not too misogynist Aussie male, hope that we can all embrace the optimism shown in your comments, Nancy, and come to realise that Julia was a rare gem in Australian politics.

    • Oh Craig – I remember that speech… I was 9 going on 10 and remember having fabulous discussions with my dad (who was a ‘Menzies man’) about what it all meant. We didn’t agree but always ended our talks with a laugh. I must re-visit it – thank you. And yes – ‘a rare gem’ is an apt description given that even gems (like people) are allowed to have flaws. ;0D

  39. whatismore says

    Thank you Nancy . Your readers may also wish to view:

    • How beautiful whatismore! Thank you so much for contributing this to the Tribute, I’m sure Julia will love it when she eventually gets to see it.

  40. Thank you, Nancy. I agree with all you say and I know that Australia is a poorer place now that we have lost Julia as our Prime Minister.
    Sad as the treatment of Julia was the thing that made me have many sleepless nights was that I thought all Australians were charitable people, but I was made to realise that there are some really unpleasant undercurrents in our society and these made me fearful for our future.
    It was frightening to see the power of the media manipulating public thought and following on from that the power of the bosses of this media who were able to have their wishes fulfilled. It was frightening to see news items being turned into opinion pieces and trivial items sensationalised and item of substance glossed over or perhaps totally ignored.
    Someone commented that Julia had been subjected to ‘mob rule’ and I think that comment was pretty much spot on and it is a sad reflection on our society that we allowed this to happen.
    However I am an eternal optimist and I hope some good will come of all of this. I have seen signs over the last week that some journalist are realising that perhaps things did go a little too far and the treatment Julia was subjected to was, dare I say it, unAustralian! As Julia said – she hopes her term as PM makes it easier for women in the future to become Australia’s PM. I certainly hope this is the case.
    And finally. We may all be feeling disappointed that the Labor Party changed their leader but we must not let those who orchestrated this injustice win. If NLP win the election it will surely reinforce the notion that the Australian people can be manipulated to the wishes of a few wealthy people.

    • Thank you for these thoughts Steve. I too am an eternal optimist, believing that this period in our history will not be in vain. That anyone can dictate – to the widespread level that has occurred – the bias or prejudice of our reporting, is clearly unacceptable. Hopefully this will be addressed and changed to a more equitable system as quickly as possible so that we may celebrate our democracy in the full sense of the word.

  41. What a thoroughly beautiful tribute .It is a credit to you.Thank you! Thank you for this.It has helped me immensely to deal with the sadness. Hope JG sees it one way or another. .Truly beautiful. .Your grand daughters are fortunate to have you.

  42. Receiving words such as yours Pru, makes the attempt to do justice to such a tribute, so rewarding. And I’m so glad it helped you in some way to deal with your sadness. It might make you smile to know that to my Granddaughters I’m quite often ‘funny old Nanna’… until I stop being a purple giraffe in the jungle, that is. ;0D

  43. Helen Craig says

    So eloquently expressed and echoing the sentiments of so many of us. She was good, she was sincere, she was courageous and resilient. June 26, 2013 was a day of sadness and despair. It’s one shining light was Julia Gillard’s dignity. I applaud her and I applaud you. Lucky little grand daughters!!

  44. That’s so kind of you to say so, Helen. And yes… her dignity IS a shining light to all of us who lose in any way. To lose with dignity is SUCH a triumph. My Granddaughters tend to think I’M the lucky one… and I tend to agree with them. ;0D

  45. thank you. over a week later, and i’m still crying at odd moments, and at beautiful pieces like this.

  46. Bless your heart Janine – you are not alone… and it’s healthy to express your emotions in that way. We all know that Time heals eventually but I understand that it doesn’t lessen the pain you are feeling right now. Be assured that only good things for Julia will come of this sorry saga. As for us as a nation – we have much to learn and much need to redeem ourselves in the eyes of the world.

  47. Nancy, I’ve just been re-reading your tribute to our first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and listening to two fine men, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott explain their decisions to support her government, though neither mentioned gender as an issue, which is as it should be. Thank you, It brought back tears for me too, which I shed over her political demise. It also reminded me of the joy of living in Australia during the years of her Prime Ministership and the pride I felt in her courage as she withstood the the unfair resistance to to it.