A few months ago Australia held a federal election and it was quite controversial for many reasons. Back in November 2007 the Australian Labour Party (our left-wing party) beat the Liberals (our right-wing party) after their 11 years in office. The new prime minister Kevin Rudd experienced falling popularity and so the ALP replaced him with the former deputy leader Julia Gillard earlier this year. This was pretty big news and the media jumped all over it. Firstly, Kevin Rudd was ousted fairly out of the blue and was obviously not expecting it. He got quite emotional but took the news humbly and so drummed up quite a bit of public support with headlines like “Kevin Rudd was in tears as he struggled to bid farewell from the office of Prime Minister and to list his achievements” being reported (The Daily Telegraph).
So Australia had its first female prime minister, but not because she was voted in, because she replaced the leader the public had voted for. As a result some people weren’t very happy and she called the re-election fairly early so that the public could choose who they really wanted. The opposition, Tony Abbott, was running against her as head of the Liberals and the election was so close that we had our first hung parliament in 70 years. Julia Gillard ended up scraping through but it took a few weeks for us to find out the result.
The media has focused a lot on her hair colour too because she’s a red head. I know a few of my red-haired friends are ecstatic to have a representative leader for once, but the media’s focus on it was just ridiculous. I think people made a bigger deal of the fact she’s a “ranga” than the fact that she’s the first woman ever to be voted into Parliament! Radio hosts dyed their hair red, held red competitions, planned red themed parties and she was all over the front covers of magazines. She’s also an atheist and living in sin with her boyfriend who’s a hairdresser. She’s challenging all the stereotypes of past leaders and, dare I say it, is our own Obama 🙂