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Julia Gillard

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Julia Gillard

The Honourable
Julia Gillard
27th Prime Minister of Australia
Elections: 2010
In office
24 June 2010 – 27 June 2013
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor General Quentin Bryce
Deputy Wayne Swan
Preceded by Kevin Rudd
Succeeded by Kevin Rudd
13th Deputy Prime Minister of Australia
In office
3 December 2007 – 24 June 2010
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
Preceded by Mark Vaile
Succeeded by Wayne Swan
Leader of the Labor Party
In office
24 June 2010 – 26 June 2013
Deputy Wayne Swan
Preceded by Kevin Rudd
Succeeded by Kevin Rudd
Deputy Leader of the Labor Party
In office
4 December 2006 – 24 June 2010
Leader Kevin Rudd
Preceded by Jenny Macklin
Succeeded by Wayne Swan
Minister for Education
In office
3 December 2007 – 28 June 2010
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
Preceded by Julie Bishop
Succeeded by Simon Crean
Minister for Employment and
Workplace Relations
In office
3 December 2007 – 28 June 2010
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
Preceded by Joe Hockey
Succeeded by Simon Crean
Minister for Social Inclusion
In office
3 December 2007 – 28 June 2010
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
Succeeded by Simon Crean
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
In office
4 December 2006 – 3 December 2007
Leader Kevin Rudd
Preceded by Jenny Macklin
Succeeded by Julie Bishop
Manager of Opposition Business in the House
In office
8 December 2003 – 10 December 2006
Leader Mark Latham
Kim Beazley
Preceded by Mark Latham
Succeeded by Anthony Albanese
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Lalor
In office
3 October 1998 – 7 September 2013
Preceded by Barry Jones
Succeeded by Joanne Ryan
8th Chairperson-in-office of the Commonwealth of Nations
In office
28 October 2011 – 27 June 2013
Head Elizabeth II
Preceded by Kamla Persad-Bissessar
Succeeded by Kevin Rudd
Personal details
Born Julia Eileen Gillard
(1961-09-29) 29 September 1961
Barry, Wales, United Kingdom
Political party Labor Party
Domestic partner Tim Mathieson
Education University of Adelaide
University of Melbourne
Website Parliamentary website
This article is part of a series about
Julia Gillard

Prime Minister of Australia

  • My Story

Julia Eileen Gillard (born 29 September 1961) is a former Australian politician who served as the 27th Prime Minister of Australia from 2010 to 2013, as leader of the Australian Labor Party. She was the first and to date only woman to hold either position.

Gillard was born in Barry, Wales,[1] and migrated with her family to Adelaide, South Australia, in 1966, attending Mitcham Demonstration School and Unley High School. In 1982, she moved to Melbourne, Victoria. She graduated from the University of Melbourne as a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws in 1986. In 1987, Gillard joined the law firm Slater & Gordon, specialising in industrial law, before entering politics.[2][3]

Gillard was first elected to the House of Representatives at the 1998 federal election for the seat of Lalor. Following the 2001 federal election, she was elected to the Shadow Cabinet and was given the portfolio of Population and Immigration. In 2003, she took on responsibility for both Reconciliation and Indigenous Affairs and Health. In December 2006, when Kevin Rudd was elected as Labor Leader and became Leader of the Opposition, Gillard was elected unopposed as his deputy.[2]

Gillard became the first female Deputy Prime Minister of Australia upon Labor's victory in the 2007 federal election, also serving as Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion. On 24 June 2010, after Rudd lost the support of his party and resigned, Gillard was elected unopposed as the Leader of the Labor Party, thus becoming the 27th Prime Minister of Australia.[4] The subsequent 2010 federal election saw the first hung parliament since the 1940 federal election. Gillard was able to form a minority government with the support of a Green MP and three independent MPs.[5][6] On 26 June 2013, after a leadership spill, Gillard lost the leadership of the Labor Party to Rudd.[7] Her resignation as Prime Minister took effect the following day.[8]


  • Early life and career 1
  • Politics 2
  • Member of Parliament, 1998–2010 3
    • Shadow minister (2001–07) 3.1
      • Deputy Opposition leader, 2006–07 3.1.1
    • Deputy Prime Minister (2007–10) 3.2
  • Prime Minister (2010–13) 4
    • 2010 leadership vote 4.1
    • 2010 election 4.2
    • Domestic policies 4.3
      • Economy 4.3.1
      • Health 4.3.2
      • Immigration 4.3.3
      • Asylum seekers 4.3.4
      • Education 4.3.5
      • Climate change 4.3.6
    • Foreign affairs 4.4
      • United States 4.4.1
      • Afghanistan 4.4.2
    • Gender politics 4.5
      • Misogyny speech 4.5.1
    • 2012 leadership vote 4.6
    • March 2013 leadership vote 4.7
    • June 2013 leadership vote 4.8
    • Resignation 4.9
  • Political positions 5
    • Abortion 5.1
    • Euthanasia 5.2
    • Factional position 5.3
    • Poker machines 5.4
    • Republic 5.5
    • Same-sex marriage 5.6
    • WikiLeaks 5.7
  • Post-political career (2013–present) 6
  • Personal life 7
    • AWU affair 7.1
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Early life and career

Gillard was born on 29 September 1961, in Barry, Wales.[2] After she suffered from bronchopneumonia as a child, her parents were advised it would aid her recovery if they were to live in a warmer climate.[9] This led the family to migrate to Australia in 1966, settling in Adelaide.[10] In 1974, eight years after they arrived, Gillard and her family became Australian citizens. As a result, Gillard held dual Australian/British citizenship until she renounced her British citizenship prior to entering Parliament in 1998.[11][12] Her father, John Oliver Gillard (1929–2012),[13] was of English, Irish and Welsh descent,[14] and worked as a psychiatric nurse. Gillard's mother, Moira Gillard (née Mackenzie), worked at the local Salvation Army nursing home and currently lives in Pasadena, South Australia.[9] Moira's ancestry is Scottish and Irish.[3][15] Gillard also has a sister, Alison, who is three years older.[9]

Gillard and her sister attended Mitcham Demonstration School, and Julia went on to attend Unley High School.[16] She then studied at the University of Adelaide but cut short her courses in 1982 and moved to Melbourne to work with the Australian Union of Students.[17] She graduated from the University of Melbourne with Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees in 1986.[18]

In 1987, Gillard joined the law firm Slater & Gordon at Werribee, Victoria, working in industrial law.[3] In 1990, at the age of 29, she was admitted as a partner.[19] Gillard took leave of absence in September 1995 to campaign for a Senate seat and resigned in May 1996, to work as chief of staff to Victorian opposition leader John Brumby.[20]


Introduced to politics in her second year at the University of Adelaide by the daughter of a State Labor Minister, Gillard joined the Labor Club and became involved in a campaign to fight federal education budget cuts.[9][10]

After moving to

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Barry Jones
Member of Parliament
for Lalor

Succeeded by
Joanne Ryan
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jenny Macklin
Deputy Leader of the Labor Party
Succeeded by
Wayne Swan
Preceded by
Kevin Rudd
Leader of the Labor Party
Succeeded by
Kevin Rudd
Political offices
Preceded by
Julie Bishop
Minister for Education
Succeeded by
Simon Crean
Preceded by
Joe Hockey
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Preceded by
Office Created
Minister for Social Inclusion
Preceded by
Mark Vaile
Deputy Prime Minister of Australia
Succeeded by
Wayne Swan
Preceded by
Kevin Rudd
Prime Minister of Australia
Succeeded by
Kevin Rudd
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Kamla Persad-Bissessar
Commonwealth Chairperson-in-Office
Succeeded by
Kevin Rudd
  • Official Federal HOR webpages for Julia Gillard
  • Official ALP webpage for Julia Gillard
  • Personal website
  • Official Facebook page of Julia Gillard
  • Search or browse Hansard for Julia Gillard at
  • Gillard, Julia Eileen (1961 – ) in The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia

External links

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  • List of elected or appointed female heads of government
  • At Home With Julia, a satirical television series
  • Paul Kelly, Triumph and Demise: The Broken Promise of a Labor Generation, Melbourne University Press, 2014. ISBN 9780522862102
  • Torild Skard: "Julia Gillard" in Women of power - half a century of female presidents and prime ministers worldwide, Bristol: Policy Press, 2014, ISBN 978-1-44731-578-0, pp. 427–32

See also

Slater & Gordon investigated Gillard's conduct and concluded that Gillard had no case to answer.[24][217][218] Gillard has denied any wrongdoing.[219] A subsequent Royal Commission into union corruption found that Gillard had not committed nor known of any criminal activity, but had displayed a lapse in professional judgement.[220]

Gillard worked in the industrial department of the law firm Slater & Gordon from 1988 through to 1995.[211] In the early 1990s, she was in a relationship with Bruce Wilson, an official of the Australian Workers Union (AWU).[212][213][214] Gillard provided pro-bono legal assistance to help establish the AWU Workplace Reform Association for Wilson and his associate Ralph Blewitt.[215] She was also involved in providing legal services in relation to the purchase of a Fitzroy property by Wilson and Blewitt. Wilson and Blewitt have been accused of creating the association in order to use a slush fund for personal benefit, including diverting funds for the purchase of the house in Fitzroy.[216]

AWU affair

Gillard was brought up in the Baptist tradition, but is non-religious. In a 2010 interview, when asked if she believed in God, she stated: "No, I don't... I'm not a religious person... [I'm] a great respecter of religious beliefs but they're not my beliefs."[208][209] In a 2013 interview with The Washington Post, she stated: "I think it would be inconceivable for me if I were an American to have turned up at the highest echelon of American politics being an atheist, single and childless."[210]

Gillard owned a single-storey home in the south-western Melbourne suburb of Altona[203] which she occupied prior to The Lodge and sold in December 2013 for $921,000.[204] She is a public supporter of the Western Bulldogs Australian rules football team[205] and the Melbourne Storm rugby league team.[206] She currently resides in Adelaide, in the beachside suburb of Brighton.[207]

Gillard's mother told ABC TV's Australian Story program that Gillard had spoken from a young age of never wanting children. Gillard herself told the program that while she admired women who could balance child rearing with a career, "I'm not sure I could have. There's something in me that's focused and single-minded and if I was going to do that, I'm not sure I could have done this."[202]

Gillard met Tim Mathieson in 2004, and they have been in a relationship since 2006.[200][201]

Gillard with Tim Mathieson in 2013

Personal life

She has been appointed an Honorary Visiting Professor at the beyondblue, chaired by former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett.[194] On February 11, 2015 Julia Gillard received an honorary doctorate from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel "for her achievements as a woman committed to education and to social inclusion, and for the impact of her commitment on the situation of children, youngsters and women worldwide";[195] and she also held a Kapuscinski Development Lecture on "the importance of education in development contexts" at the said university.[196][197] On 30 June 2015 she was conferred with a fellowship from Aberystwyth University in recognition of her "significant contribution to political life". [198][199]

In July 2013, Gillard signed a book deal for her memoirs with Penguin Australia.[186] The book My Story was published in 2014 by Random House.[187] In the book, Senator Nick Xenophon was said to have been '"infamously excluded from university for a period as punishment for stuffing a ballot box full of voting papers he had somehow procured", which was denied by Xenophon. In February 2015, the publisher Random House issued a public apology to Xenophon and paid a confidential cash settlement.[188] Xenophon continued to request a personal apology from Gillard. On 6 August 2015, Gillard published a personal apology to Xenophon in a number of Australian newspapers.[189]

Bust of Julia Gillard located in the Prime Minister's Avenue in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens in Ballarat, Victoria

Post-political career (2013–present)

Following the November 2010 release of secret United States diplomatic cables, Gillard stated, "I absolutely condemn the placement of this information on the WikiLeaks website. It's a grossly irresponsible thing to do and an illegal thing to do."[182][183][184] After an Australian Federal Police investigation failed to find WikiLeaks had broken any Australian laws by publishing the US diplomatic documents, Gillard maintained her stance that the release of the documents was "grossly irresponsible".[185]


In September 2014, Gillard said that the "course of human history now is that we are going to see same-sex marriage here and in, you know, most parts of the developed world."[181] She declared her support for same-sex marriage in August 2015.[175]

Gillard, as a Member of Parliament, voted against a bill that would have legalised same-sex marriage in Australia in 2011.[175] In 2010 she stated "the Marriage Act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman" and that marriage being between a man and woman "has a special status".[169][176][177] The triennial Labor conference held in December 2011 saw Gillard successfully negotiate an amendment on same-sex marriage[178] to see the party introduce a conscience vote to parliament through a private member's bill, rather than a binding vote.[179] When the private members bill was introduced by Labor backbencher Stephen Jones, it was defeated in the House of Representatives on 19 September 2012.[180]

Same-sex marriage

Gillard supports Australia becoming a republic and has suggested that the end of Queen Elizabeth II's reign would be "probably the appropriate point for a transition".[174]


In 2010, Gillard agreed with Nick Xenophon, Andrew Wilkie and the Australian Greens to introduce poker machine reform legislation, to curb problem gambling, into the parliament by May 2012. After members of the cross bench advised that they would not support this bill in the House of Representatives, Gillard withdrew her support. Wilkie said that many Australians felt "very let down by the PM", and fellow anti-gambling campaigner Xenophon accused the Prime Minister of "backstabbing the person who put her in office".[173]

Poker machines

Although nominally a member of the [3][170] In July 2010, historian Ross Fitzgerald said, "... at least since [2009] Gillard has sought to reposition herself more towards the Labor Right."[172]

Factional position

Concerning euthanasia Gillard warned that it may "open the door to exploitation and perhaps callousness towards people in the end stage of life" and that she is not convinced that the policy of pro-euthanasia advocates contain "sufficient safeguards".[169]


Gillard has expressed support for legal abortion saying that "Women without money would be left without that choice or in the hands of backyard abortion providers" and that she understood "the various moral positions" regarding abortions.[168]


Gillard speaking at the launch of the Australian Multicultural Council in August 2011

Political positions

Following her defeat in the leadership vote on 26 June 2013, Gillard congratulated the winner Kevin Rudd and announced that she would immediately tender her resignation as Prime Minister to the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce.[166] She also announced, in keeping with her pledge before the leadership vote, that she would not re-contest her seat of Lalor at the upcoming election, and thus would retire from politics. Her resignation as Prime Minister took effect the following day, upon the swearing in of Rudd.[8][167]


Following further speculation over her leadership, on 26 June a rumour emerged that supporters of Kevin Rudd were collecting signatures for a letter demanding an immediate leadership vote. That afternoon, before any letter had been published, Gillard called a leadership spill live on television. She challenged any would-be opponent to join her in a pledge that, while the winner would become leader, the loser would immediately retire from politics. Despite his earlier comments that he would not return to the leadership under any circumstances, Kevin Rudd announced that he would challenge Gillard for the leadership, and committed to retiring from politics if he lost. In the party-room ballot later that evening, Rudd defeated Gillard by a margin of 57 votes to 45.[165]

By the end of June 2013, Labor's standing in the polls had worsened, and the Coalition had been leading in most opinion polls for two years; one poll in early June showed that Labor would be reduced to as few as 40 seats after the next election.[163] With a general election due later that year, even some staunch Gillard supporters began to believe that Labor faced almost certain defeat if Gillard continued as leader. According to the ABC's Barrie Cassidy, the question was not whether Gillard would be ousted as Labor leader, but when the ousting would take place.[164]

June 2013 leadership vote

Gillard declared that the question of the Labor leadership was now "settled". Nevertheless, speculation on Gillard's leadership remained a major issue, with polling results indicating an electoral disaster were she to lead the Labor Party into the election. In light of this, media attention once more turned to Kevin Rudd as a possible replacement in the short term. It was reported that Gillard's supporter Bill Shorten was under pressure to ask her to resign, creating a vacancy that Rudd would contest.[162]

Ten minutes before the ballot was due to occur, Rudd publicly announced that he would not contest the leadership, in line with the commitment he had made following the 2012 contest. As such, Gillard and Wayne Swan were the only candidates for the Leadership and Deputy Leadership of the Labor Party, and were elected unopposed. This marked the first time in history that an incumbent Labor Leader was elected unopposed at a leadership ballot.[161] Several ministers subsequently resigned from the government, including Chief Government Whip Joel Fitzgibbon, Human Services Minister Kim Carr, and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson.

Despite Gillard's defeating Kevin Rudd comfortably in the 2012 leadership spill, tensions remained in the Labor Party regarding Gillard's leadership.[159] After Labor's polling position worsened in the wake of Gillard announcing the date of the 2013 election, these tensions came to a head when former Labor Leader and Regional Minister Simon Crean called for a leadership spill and backed Rudd on 21 March 2013.[160] In response, Gillard sacked Crean from his position, and called a leadership spill for 4.30pm that same day.

March 2013 leadership vote

At the leadership ballot, Gillard won comfortably by a vote of 71 to 31.[158]

After resigning, Rudd stated that he did not think Gillard could defeat the Coalition at the next election and that, since his resignation, he had received encouragement from Labor MPs and Cabinet Ministers to contest the leadership.[156] Gillard responded to these developments by announcing a leadership ballot for the morning of 27 February 2012, saying that if she lost the vote she would return to the backbench and renounce any claims to the leadership. She asked that Rudd make the same commitment.[157]

In the light of poor polling results for the Gillard Government, speculation that Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd wished to challenge Gillard for the leadership culminated with Rudd resigning from the Cabinet on 22 February 2012. Rudd told the media "I can only serve as Foreign Minister if I have the confidence of Prime Minister Gillard and her senior ministers" after Gillard failed to repudiate cabinet ministers who publicly criticised Rudd and his tenure as Prime Minister.[153][154] The situation had been further exacerbated by the revelation on Four Corners that Gillard's staff wrote her victory speech for the 2010 leadership election two weeks prior to her challenge, contradicting Gillard's earlier claims that she had only resolved to challenge Rudd the day before the vote. This revelation caused particular conflict between Labor factions to surface, with Labor MP Darren Cheeseman calling on Gillard to resign, while his colleague Steve Gibbons called Rudd a "psychopath with a giant ego".[155]

2012 leadership vote

Labor had secured the defection of Slipper from the Liberal National Party of Queensland (LNP) to sit in the Speaker's chair a year earlier, but he was forced to stand aside from his main duties in April 2012 pending the conclusion of a criminal investigation.[151] After a week of controversy, Gillard announced that she was asking Slipper to delay his return to the Chair pending the conclusion of concurrent civil proceedings, in an effort to dispel what she described as a "dark cloud" over her government (a reference also to the ongoing Craig Thomson affair involving a Labor MP linked to corruption allegations).[152]

In an August 2012 press conference regarding the AWU scandal, Gillard was critical of The Australian newspaper for writing about her connection to the affair and of what she called "misogynist nut jobs on the internet". Gillard said that she had been "the subject of a very sexist smear campaign".[142] In early October, the Opposition Leader's wife accused the Gillard Government of a deliberate campaign to smear her husband, Tony Abbott, on gender issues.[143] On 9 October 2012, Gillard also raised "sexism and misogyny" in a speech opposing a motion to remove Peter Slipper, her choice as Speaker of the House of Representatives, after revelations of inappropriate conduct on his part became public.[144] Gillard linked the speech to the context of the then ongoing Alan Jones "died of shame" controversy.[145] The speech[146] was widely reported around the world.[147] In Laos soon after for an Asian-European leaders conference, Gillard described comments by François Hollande and Helle Thorning-Schmidt: "The president of France congratulated me on the speech, as did the Prime Minister of Denmark, and some other leaders, just casually as I've moved around, have also mentioned it to me."[148][149][150] US President Barack Obama reportedly "complimented" Gillard on the speech in a private conversation following his re-election.[150]

Misogyny speech

During the course of Gillard's prime ministership, sexism had been a contentious issue for a number of Labor and Greens Party figures, as well as some commentators.[139] Former Labor Party advisor Anne Summers said in 2012 that "Gillard is being persecuted both because she is a woman and in ways that would be impossible to apply to a man".[140] In reply, journalist Peter Hartcher wrote, "She was a woman when she was popular; she can't be unpopular now because she's a woman. The change is a result of her actions in office, not her gender."[141]

Gender politics

A parliamentary debate was conducted for four sitting weeks of parliament, with the agreement between Gillard and Abbott that it is necessary to stay in Afghanistan and prevent it from becoming a safe haven for terrorists.[138]

During her first day as Prime Minister, Gillard reassured US President Barack Obama of Australia's continuing support for the military campaign in Afghanistan.[136] She visited Afghanistan on 2 October 2010 and met with Australian forces in Tarin Kowt and President Hamid Karzai in Kabul. The visit formed part of her first overseas trip as prime minister.[137]


In a 2008 speech in Washington, Gillard endorsed the ANZUS Alliance and described the United States as a civilising global influence.[134] Her former colleague and leader [135]

Gillard with General David Petraeus, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force, during a visit to Afghanistan on 2 October 2010

Following her 2010 election victory, Gillard selected her former leader Kevin Rudd (a career diplomat) as Foreign Minister. Gillard travelled to the United States in March 2011 to mark the 60th Anniversary of the ANZUS Alliance and was invited to address the United States Congress.

United States

Foreign policy is not my passion. It's not what I've spent my life doing. You know, I came into politics predominantly to make a difference to opportunity questions, particularly make a difference in education. So, yes, if I had a choice I'd probably more be in a school watching kids learn to read in Australia than here in Brussels at international meetings.

During her first major international tour as Prime Minister, Julia Gillard told ABC TV's 7.30 Report:[133]

Foreign affairs

The bill was passed by the Lower House in October 2011[131] and the Upper House in November 2011.[132]

During the 2010 Election campaign, Gillard said that no carbon tax would be introduced under a government she led.[128] In the first hung parliament result in 70 years, the Gillard Government, with the support of the Australian Greens and some cross bench independents, negotiated the implementation of a carbon tax (the preferred policy of the Australian Greens), by which a fixed-price carbon tax would proceed to a floating-price ETS within a few years under the plans. The government proposed the Clean Energy Bill in February 2011,[129] which the opposition claimed to be a broken election promise.[130]

In her 2010 election campaign, Gillard pledged to build a "national consensus" for a carbon price by creating a "citizens assembly", to examine "the evidence on climate change, the case for action and the possible consequences of introducing a market-based approach to limiting and reducing carbon emissions", over the course of one year. The assembly was to be selected by an independent authority who would select people from the electoral roll using census data.[126] The plan was never implemented. After the 2010 Election, Gillard agreed to form a minority government with the Greens and Independents and replaced her "citizens assembly" plan with a climate change panel consisting of Labor, Greens and Independent members of Parliament.[127] The panel ultimately announced backing for a temporary carbon tax, leading up to an Emissions Trading Scheme.

The Rudd Labor opposition promised to implement an emissions trading scheme (ETS) before the 2007 federal election which Labor won. Rudd, unable to secure support for his scheme in the Senate, dropped it. During his 2012 leadership challenge against Gillard's prime ministership, Kevin Rudd said that it was Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan who convinced him to delay his Emissions Trading Scheme.[125]

Climate change

Universities also placed highly on her education agenda. Legislation due to be voted on in November 2010 that would see the introduction of a national universities regulator was delayed till 2011 following criticisms from the higher education sector. It was also announced by her government that legislation to establish the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency would also be introduced early 2011.[124]

Gillard continued to put the My School website centre of her education agenda, which was controversial when she implemented when she was the Minister for Education. Although it was popular amongst parents, the website helped parents view statistics of the school their children attended. She has unveiled the revamped version, My School 2.0, promising better information to parents.[123]

At the July 2010 National Press Club, Gillard stated "I will make education central to my economic agenda because of the role it plays in developing the skills that lead to rewarding and satisfying work – and that can build a high-productivity, high-participation economy."[120][121] The Gillard Government in January 2011 extended tax cuts to parents to help pay for stationery, textbooks or computer equipment under the Education Tax Refund scheme.[122]

When Gillard became Prime Minister she gave her Education portfolio to Simon Crean.


The asylum seeker debate returned during August 2012 following the report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers, led by retired Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston. Accepting the panel's recommendation, Gillard on 12 August 2012 announced that a bill then before Parliament would be amended to allow the Government to choose sites for off-shore processing. At the same time she announced the Government would nominate Nauru and Manus Island, Papua New Guinea to be re-opened.[118] The amended bill passed with the support of the Opposition on 16 August 2012.[119]

On 31 August, the High Court ruled that the agreement to transfer refugees from Australia to Malaysia was invalid, and ordered that it not proceed. Australia will still accept 4,000 people who have been assessed as refugees in Malaysia.[116][117]

In May 2011, Gillard announced that Australia and Malaysia were finalising an arrangement to exchange asylum seekers. Gillard and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said they were close to signing a bilateral agreement which would result in 800 asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat being taken to Malaysia instead. Australia will take 4,000 people from Malaysia who have previously been assessed as being refugees.[114][115]

In April 2011, the Federal Government confirmed that a detention centre for single men will be built at the old army barracks at Pontville, 45 minutes north of Hobart, Tasmania. This immigration detention centre will house up to 400 refugees.[112] Also in April 2011 immigration detainees at the Villawood detention centre rioted in protest of their treatment, setting fire to several buildings.[113]

On 15 December 2010, a ship containing 89 asylum seekers crashed on the shore of Christmas Island, killing up to fifty people.[106][107] Refugee and migrant advocates condemned the government's hardline policy as responsible for the tragedy,[108][109] and ALP Party President Anna Bligh called for a complete review of ALP asylum seeker policy.[110] Gillard returned early from holidays in response to the crash, and to review asylum seeker policy.[110] Some months later Gillard would announce "The Malaysia Solution" in response.[111]

In October 2010, her government announced that it would open two detention centres for 2000 immigrants, due to the pressures in allowing women and children to be released into the community. One was to be opened in Inverbrackie, South Australia, and one in Northam, Western Australia.[105] She said it would be a short-term solution to the problem and that temporary detention centres will be closed.

After winning leadership of the Labor Party, Gillard identified addressing the issue of unauthorised arrivals of asylum seekers as a priority of her government. She announced that negotiations were underway for a return to "offshore processing" of asylum seeker claims. Gillard ruled out a return to processing at Nauru and named East Timor as a preferred location for new detention and processing facilities.[102][103] The East Timorese Government rejected the plan.[104]

Asylum seekers

In relation to population targets for Australia, Gillard told Fairfax Media in August 2010 that while skilled migration is important: "I don't support the idea of a big Australia". Gillard also altered the nomenclature of Tony Burke's role as "Minister for Population" to that of "Minister for Sustainable Population".[101]


In October 2010, her government introduced legislation to reform funding arrangements for the health system, with the intention of giving the Commonwealth responsibility for providing the majority of funding to public hospitals and 100 per cent of funding for primary care and GP services. In February 2011, Gillard announced extensive revision of the original health funding reforms proposed by the Rudd Government, which had been unable to secure the support of all state governments. The revised Gillard government plan proposed that the federal government move towards providing 50% of new health funding (and not 60 per cent as originally agreed) and removed the requirement of the states to cede a proportion of their GST revenue to the Federal Government in order to fund the new arrangement.[98] The new agreement was supported by all state premiers and chief ministers[99] and signed on 2 August.[100]

Like her predecessor Rudd, Gillard has said that health is a priority in her agenda. She announced during the 2010 election, that there would be an increase of 270 placements for emergency doctors and nurses and 3,000 extra nursing scholarships over the following 10 years.[95] She also said mental health would be a priority in her second term, with a $277 million suicide-prevention package which would target high-risk groups.[96] As the election delivered a hung parliament, a $1.8 billion package was given to rural hospitals, which was agreed to by the independents to support her re-election.[97]


The Gillard Government stressed a need to return the Federal Budget to surplus for the 2012–13 financial year, and Gillard said there were "no ifs no buts" about this promise[89][90] and that "failure is not an option here and we won't fail".[90][91] In his 2012–13 Budget Treasurer Swan announced that the government would deliver a $1.5 billion surplus.[92] The government cut defence and foreign aid spending.[93] In December 2012 Swan announced that the government no longer expected to achieve a surplus, citing falling revenue and global economic conditions.[94]

Gillard came to office in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2007–2008. Government receipts fell during the international downturn and the Rudd Government had employed pump priming expenditure.[86] Upon taking over as leader of the ALP on 23 June 2010, Gillard said she could "assure" Australians that the Federal Budget would be in surplus in 2013.[87] The Government continued to promise this outcome until December 2012. Gillard initially ruled out a "carbon tax" but said that she would build community consensus for a price on carbon and open negotiations with the mining industry for a re-vamped mining profits tax.[53][87][88] Following the 2010 hung parliament election result, the ALP elected to adopt the Australian Greens preference for a carbon tax to transition to an emissions trading scheme, establishing a carbon price via the Clean Energy Bill 2011. The government also introduced a revised Minerals Resource Rent Tax and the Queensland Flood Levy.


Domestic policies

Six crossbench MPs held the balance of power.[80][81] Four crossbench MPs, Greens Adam Bandt and independents Andrew Wilkie, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor declared their support for Labor on confidence and supply,[82][83] allowing Gillard and Labor to remain in power with a minority government.[84] Governor-General Bryce swore in the Second Gillard Ministry on 14 September 2010.[85]

Labor and the Coalition each won 72 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives,[71] four short of the requirement for majority government, resulting in the first hung parliament since the 1940 election.[72][73] Both major party leaders sought to form a minority government.[74][75][76][77][78][79]

Gillard officially "launched" Labor's campaign in Brisbane five days before polling day, outlining Labor policies and utilising the slogan: "Yes we will move forward together".[70]

Gillard met Opposition leader Tony Abbott for one official debate during the campaign. Studio audience surveys by Channel 9 and the Seven Network suggested a win to Gillard.[65] Unable to agree on further debates, the leaders went on to appear separately on stage for questioning at community forums in Sydney, New South Wales and Brisbane, Queensland. An audience exit poll of the Rooty Hill RSL audience indicated an Abbott victory.[66] Gillard won the audience poll at the Broncos Leagues Club meeting in Brisbane on 18 August.[67] Gillard also appeared on the ABC's Q&A program on 9 August.[68] On 7 August, Gillard was questioned by former Labor leader turned Channel Nine reporter Mark Latham.[69]

I think it's time for me to make sure that the real Julia is well and truly on display, so I'm going to step up and take personal charge of what we do in the campaign from this point.

On 17 July 2010, 23 days after becoming prime minister and after receiving the agreement of the Governor-General Quentin Bryce, Gillard announced the next federal election would be held on 21 August 2010.[61] Gillard began campaigning with a speech utilising the slogan "moving forward".[62] In the early stages of the campaign, a series of leaks were released by purported Labor Party sources, indicating apparent divisions within Cabinet over the replacement of Kevin Rudd by Gillard.[63] Mid-way through the campaign, Gillard offered journalists a self-assessment of her campaign by saying that she had been paying too much attention to advisers in her strategy team, and she wanted to run a less "stage-managed" campaign:[64]

2010 election

The leadership question remained a feature of the Gillard Government's terms in office, and amidst ongoing leadership speculation following an ABC TV Four Corners examination of the events leading up to Rudd's replacement which cast doubt on Gillard's insistence that she did not actively campaign for the Prime Ministership, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon spoke of Rudd's record in the following terms: "I don't think we should whitewash history – while there are a lot of very good things our government did with Kevin as prime minister, there were also a lot of challenges, and it's Julia who has seen through fixing a lot of those problems."[60]

As well as being the first female Prime Minister, and the first never to have married, Gillard is the first Prime Minister since Billy Hughes to have been born overseas.[55]

Upon her election by the Labor Party, Gillard said that she wouldn't move into The Lodge until she was elected Prime Minister in her own right, instead choosing to divide her time between a flat in Canberra and her home in Altona, a western suburb of Melbourne.[58] Gillard moved into The Lodge on 26 September 2010.[59]

Later that day, in her first press conference as Prime Minister, Gillard said that at times the Rudd Government "went off the tracks", and "[I] came to the view that a good Government was losing its way".[56] Gillard offered wider explanation of her motivations for replacing Rudd during the 2012 Labor leadership spill in which Rudd challenged Gillard to regain the Labor leadership, telling the media that the Rudd Government had entered a "period of paralysis" and that Rudd's work patterns were "difficult and chaotic".[57]

Shortly afterward, Gillard was sworn in as the 27th Prime Minister of Australia by Governor-General Quentin Bryce, with Swan being sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister. The members of the Rudd Ministry, with the exception of Rudd himself who returned to the backbenches, subsequently became the members of the First Gillard Ministry.

Gillard with U.S. Ambassador Jeff Bleich in June 2010

Rudd initially said that he would challenge Gillard, but it soon became apparent that he did not have enough support within the party to survive in his position. Hours before the vote on 24 June, he resigned as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labor Party, leaving Gillard to assume the leadership unopposed. Treasurer Wayne Swan was at the same time elected unopposed to succeed Gillard as Deputy Leader.[55]

Initially, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the final catalyst for the move on Rudd was sparked by a report that Rudd had used his chief of staff to sound out back benchers on his level of support, thus implying that "he did not trust the repeated assurances by Ms Gillard that she would not stand".[52] Later, ABC's 7:30 Report said the seeds for the challenge to Rudd came from "factional heavyweights" Bill Shorten and Senator David Feeney, who secured the support of "New South Wales right power broker" Mark Arbib and that Feeney and Arbib went to discuss a challenge with Gillard on the morning of 23 June and a final numbers count began for a challenge.[53] Accounts have continued to differ as to the extend of Julia Gillard's foreknowledge and planning of the replacement of Rudd.[54]

As late as May 2010, prior to challenging Rudd, Gillard was quipping to the media that "There's more chance of me becoming the full-forward for the Dogs than there is of any change in the Labor Party".[50] Consequently, Gillard's move against Rudd on 23 June appeared to surprise many Labor backbenchers. Daryl Melham when asked by a reporter on the night of the challenge if indeed a challenge was on, replied: "Complete garbage. ABC have lost all credibility."[51] As he was being deposed, Rudd suggested that his opponents wanted to move Labor to the right, saying on 23 June: " This party and government will not be lurching to the right on the question of asylum seekers, as some have counselled us to do."[50]

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd suffered a decline in his personal ratings, and a perceived loss of support among his own MPs, following the failure of the Government's insulation program, controversy regarding the implementation of a tax on mining, the failure of the government to secure passage of its carbon trading scheme and some policy debate about immigration policy. Significant disaffection had arisen within the Labor Party as to the leadership style and direction of Rudd.[48] On 23 June 2010 he announced that Gillard had asked him to hold a leadership ballot the following day to determine the leadership of the Labor Party, and hence the Prime Ministership of Australia.[49]

2010 leadership vote

Prime Minister (2010–13)

On 11 December 2007, she temporarily assumed the duties of the Prime Minister while Kevin Rudd attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, becoming the first woman ever to do so.[45] She assumed these duties for a total of 69 days during Rudd's various overseas travel engagements.[46] Gillard quickly became known as a highly regarded debater, with her performances during parliamentary question time prompting Peter van Onselen to call her "the best parliamentary performer on the Labor side".[47]

In her role as Minister for Education, Gillard travelled to Washington D.C., where she signed a deal with US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to encourage improved policy collaboration in education reform between both countries.[40] As Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Gillard removed the WorkChoices industrial relations regime introduced by the Howard Government, and replaced it with the Fair Work Bill.[41] This established a single industrial relations bureaucracy called Fair Work Australia.[42] Gillard also oversaw the government's "Building the Education Revolution" program, which allocated $16 billion to build new school accommodation including classrooms, libraries and assembly halls.[43][44]

After the Labor Party's victory in the 2007 federal election, Gillard was sworn in as the first ever female Deputy Prime Minister of Australia on 3 December 2007.[39] In addition to being made Deputy Prime Minister, Gillard was given responsibility for a so-called "super ministry", the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Gillard at her first press conference as Deputy Leader in 2006, alongside new Leader Kevin Rudd

Deputy Prime Minister (2007–10)

On 1 December 2006, as part of a cross-factional political partnership with Kevin Rudd, Gillard challenged Jenny Macklin for the deputy leadership.[36] After Rudd successfully replaced Beazley as Labor Leader on 4 December 2006, Macklin chose to resign, meaning that Gillard became Deputy Leader unopposed.[37] In the subsequent reshuffle, Gillard was allocated responsibility for Employment, Workplace Relations and Social Inclusion, as well as being made Deputy Leader of the Opposition.[38]

Deputy Opposition leader, 2006–07

In the aftermath of Labor's fourth consecutive defeat in the 2004 federal election it was widely speculated that Gillard might challenge Jenny Macklin for the deputy leadership, but she did not do so.[32] Gillard had been spoken of as a potential future leader of the party for some years, but never stood in a leadership contest. After Mark Latham resigned as Labor Leader in January 2005, Gillard appeared on ABC's Australian Story in March 2006, after which an Ipsos Mackay poll conducted for Network Ten's Meet the Press found that more respondents would prefer Gillard to be Labor Leader; she polled 32% compared with Beazley's 25% and Kevin Rudd's 18%.[9][33][34] Although she had significant cross-factional support, she announced on 25 January 2005 that she would not contest the leadership, allowing Beazley to be elected unopposed.[35]

Gillard was later promoted to the position of Shadow Minister for Health in July 2003.[29] During this time, she shadowed Tony Abbott, with the rivalry between the two often attracting attention from the media.[30] She was later given additional responsibility for managing opposition business in the House of Representatives by new Labor Leader Mark Latham.[31]

Gillard in 2005

After Labor's defeat at the 2001 federal election, Gillard was elected to the Shadow Cabinet under then-Labor Leader Simon Crean, where she was given responsibility for Population and Immigration. In February 2003, she was given additional responsibilities for Reconciliation and Indigenous Affairs.[28] In these roles, in the wake of the Tampa and Children Overboard affairs, which were partly credited with Labor's 2001 election loss, Gillard developed a new immigration policy for the Labor Party.[10]

Shadow minister (2001–07)

Gillard was first elected to the House of Representatives at the 1998 federal election representing Lalor, a safe Labor seat near Melbourne, replacing Barry Jones who retired. She made her maiden speech to the House on 11 November 1998.[27]

Member of Parliament, 1998–2010

The Welsh Labour politician Aneurin Bevan remains one of her political heroes.[19]

One year later in 1996, Gillard resigned from her position with Slater & Gordon in order to become the Chief of Staff to John Brumby, at that time the Leader of the Opposition in Victoria.[2][24] She was responsible for drafting the affirmative-action rules within the Labor Party in Victoria that set the target of pre-selecting women for 35 per cent of "winnable seats".[10][25] She also played a role in the foundation of EMILY's List, the pro-choice fund-raising and support network for Labor women.[26]

In 1995, Gillard took leave from her legal firm to contest the 1996 federal election as a Senate candidate, standing third on the ALP's ticket, although she was unsuccessful.[23][24]


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