Australia: PM Julia Gillard’s flawless exposè of Abbott’s misogyny & hypocrisy globally applauded Print E-mail

 
 Thursday October 11, 2012


International blogosphere applauds Gillard's 'misogynist' attack on Abbott

By Michelle Grattan

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Video: Gillard speech 'the best thing you'll see all day'

Julia Gillard's fiery speech in which she labels the opposition leader 'sexist' and a 'misogynist' has proved a popular story internationally.

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''ANGRY'' Julia has taken off like wildfire in the overseas media and blog world. In Britain, the United States and Germany, they are reading about the feisty assault by the Prime Minister on Tony Abbott's ''misogyny'', with Ms Gillard getting plenty of applause. On The New Yorker website [scroll down to read in full], Amelia Lester wrote that: ''After his performance last week, supporters of President Obama, watching Gillard cut through the disingenuousness and feigned moral outrage of her opponent to call him out for his own personal prejudice, hypocrisy, and aversion to facts, might be wishing their man would take a lesson from Australia.''

On the left-leaning Salon .com site Natasha Lennard expressed the wish: ''If only the US could borrow Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to take on Congress' misogynist caucus,'' adding that the PM had ''skewered'' Mr Abbott for ''a career's worth of patriarchal comments''.

On Britain's New Statesman website the headlines said: ''Julia Gillard tells opposition leader: calling me a bitch shows you're a misogynist. The Australian PM is angry. You wouldn't like her when she's angry.''
 
Fired up... Prime Minister Julia Gillard unloads on the opposition leader. (Andrew Meares)

On The Guardian site, Chloe Angyal praised Ms Gillard for pulling no punches.

But she also said that ''for all her fiery anti-sexism rhetoric'', Ms Gillard ''isn't quite the stuff of feminist fantasies''.

Pointing to her refusal to advance same-sex marriage, Angyal lamented: ''If only she could see that misogyny, which she finds so abhorrent in Abbott, also lies at the heart of homophobia.''

On The Spectator blogs, Alex Massie directed readers to the video of Tuesday's House of Representatives, writing: ''Anyone who admires the cut and thrust of parliamentary theatre and debate will enjoy these 15 minutes. Mr Abbott does not look best amused. But then he's just been carved to pieces, so he wouldn't would he?''

On the US feminist-oriented site Jezebel, the video was described as ''Best Thing You'll See All Day: Australia's Female Prime Minister Rips Misogynist a New One in Epic Speech on Sexism''
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 Melbourne ~ Wednesday October 10 2012

Also at:  Wednesday October 10 2012

Julia 'badass' Gillard: Slipper resignation just a sidebar

By Stephanie Gardiner

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Video: Gillard speech 'the best thing you'll see all day'
Julia Gillard's fiery speech in which she labels the opposition leader 'sexist' and a 'misogynist' has proved a popular story internationally.

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Prime Minister Julia Gillard: a "badass" champion for women around the world.

No matter what you think of her politics, there's much to admire in the manner in which Julia Gillard, the prime minister, sets about Tony Abbott, the leader of the opposition

The Prime Minister's 15-minute speech condemning misogyny and attacking Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's history of comments about abortion, women's roles in the home and their ability to wield authority has impressed political pundits in the US and Britain.

Politcal rivals ... Julia Gillard walks past Tony Abbott. (Alex Ellinghausen)

The most enthusiastic praise came from US women's site Jezebel, which described Ms Gillard as "one badass mother----er".

"In an impassioned 15-minute smackdown in front of the House of Representatives, the country's first female leader gave a scathing speech calling out opposition leader Tony Abbott's extremely misogynistic comments, actions, views on abortion and single women, all while pointing in his face."

Jezebel also highlighted some of her "choice quotes" including:
- "I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man, I will not. And the government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever. The leader of the opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office. Well, I hope the leader of the opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation. Because if he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn't need a motion in the house of representatives, he needs a mirror.

- "I was very offended personally the Leader of the Opposition said abortion is the easy way out."

- "I was offended when he stood next to a sign that described me as a 'man's bitch.'"


Online political magazine Salon said US politicians such as Todd Akin, who said "legitimate rape" did not result in pregnancy, and Allen West, who was blasted after telling a Democrat she was "not a lady", could learn something from Ms Gillard.

"If only the US could borrow Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to take on Congress's misogynist caucus," Salon said.

"We wonder if Gillard takes requests: Todd Akin, R.-Mo., and Allen West, R.- Fla., to name just a couple, could certainly use a similar treatment."

Under the headline "More than just a man's 'bitch'", in reference to part of Ms Gillard's speech, the website for the British conservative magazine The Spectator also lauded the Prime Minister.

"No matter what you think of her politics, there's much to admire in the manner in which Julia Gillard, the prime minister, sets about Tony Abbott, the leader of the opposition," columnist Alex Massie wrote.

"Anyone who admires the cut and thrust of parliamentary theatre and debate will enjoy these 15 minutes.

"Mr Abbott does not look best amused. But then he's just been carved to pieces so he wouldn't, would he?"

The Daily Beast wrote a small piece with the opening line, "Margaret Thatcher must be smiling."

Only a few of the articles reported in detail on the motion to remove Peter Slipper as Speaker.

London's Daily Telegraph women's editor Emma Barnett said Ms Gillard "played her best hand" in the circumstances.

"In short, Gillard didn't have a leg to stand on during Australia's Prime Minister's question time," Ms Barnett wrote.

"Defending the indefensible is a pretty tough job and could still cost her dear. But what she did have was an impressive set of insults to launch at the high and mighty Abbott – which has completely and cleverly shifted the focus of the entire news story ever since.

"Watching a female Prime Minister tear apart the male leader of the Opposition with such aplomb, composure – but most importantly armed with a brilliantly impressive set of insults – backed up with dates and times of when each shocking comment was said – was the best card Gillard, ever the political animal, could have played in such a situation."

US news site Business Insider said Ms Gillard gave Mr Abbott a "stern drubbing".

"[It's] certainly not like anything you'd see in U.S. politics," journalist Joe Weisenthal wrote.

"In addition to the intensity of the speech ... you can really see Abbott get increasingly uncomfortable as the speech goes on.

"He starts by smiling at the charges of being sexist to appearing deeply uncomfortable."

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 London ~ Friday October 12 2012

Editorial:

In praise of ... Julia Gillard

Australia's prime minister has put up with too much nonsense for too long from her Liberal opponent

Few rants have been longer in the fermenting, but Julia Gillard justified the wait by pouring forth a tirade of rare vintage this week. The cork of the Australian PM's rage was pulled by her Liberal opponent Tony Abbott's (aka The Mad Monk) posturing in a row over some indecent texts that parliament's speaker had sent to a male ex-staffer. Abbott's humbug claim that this made him unfit for office was too much for a PM who has battled Abbott's neanderthal instincts for years, and who – in a country where sexism is more upfront, but less insidious, than in Britain – has put up with too much nonsense for too long. On top of the notorious " deliberately barren" line from Liberal Bill Heffernan, there have been placards about bitches and witches which Abbott stood beside. So, on the floor of the house, something snapped, and we got the splendid diatribe. Dave "calm down, dear" Cameron must be grateful he's not up against the Welsh-born wizardess.
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 Thursday October 11, 2012

Gillard brought down the House

By Charles Waterstreet / Sydney barrister and author

(llustration: michaelmucci.com)

Some men have been in too many scrums, too many boxing matches, have beaten their heads against too many walls. Of all the words in the whole wide world, Tony Abbott chose - deliberately, it would seem - to use the word ''shame'' in his speech on the motion to sack Peter Slipper as speaker. Shame, with all the connotations Alan Jones wrapped around it clumsily weeks earlier, when referring to the Prime Minister's dead father. Abbott's use of ''shame'' made Slipper's description of women's private parts look positively eloquent.

When Abbott said this Parliament was covered in shame, he had both feet in his mouth and led with his glass jaw because people who throw punches or stones should not live in glass parliament houses. And the word was snatched from his mouth by Julia Gillard and shoved down his throat on Tuesday, in the most riveting, exhilarating, exhorting speech delivered in the house since Paul Keating hammered Hewson and Howard into submission on a daily basis. Gillard's speech channelled Margaret Thatcher, Germaine Greer and Martin Luther King jnr with the punch of Muhammad Ali.

Gillard rose from the ashes of the Slipper affair with her head glowing red, full of fire and ire, her big guns blazing and every bullet went into the head and heart of Abbott. On hearing the Opposition Leader say, ''Standing in this Parliament to defend this Speaker will be another day of shame … another day of shame for a government which should already have died of shame'', Gillard sensed blood. Maybe the blood on the knuckle of Abbott's left and right fists after they pounded the wall around the head of a frightened Barbara Ramjan, who had just licked him in a fair fight for presidency of the Students Representative Council at Sydney University in 1977.

The Prime Minister delivered the fatal one-two punches to the hapless jaw of Abbott. ''The government is not dying of shame, my father did not die of shame. What the Leader of the Opposition should be ashamed of is his performance in this Parliament and the sexism he brings with it.''

Abbott does not choose his female opponents very well. By using the word shame in Parliament this week, he belittled himself and empowered the Prime Minister. When he picked on Ramjan - ''within an inch of my nose and punched the wall on either side of my head'' - he again chose the wrong woman to intimidate. We have all been idiots, done idiotic things, had temper tantrums when outwitted by a woman one-third our size.

In 1977, Abbott's mission was to bring the SRC down by attempting to get himself elected and then preside over its self-destruction.

Ramjan had an enormous constituency in the humanities, in the arts, in the sciences. Abbott's army of meatheads from engineering were outgunned and he was fuming. Character is bred in a person's bones and displayed in conduct. It is grace under pressure, not clenched fists in fury.

Ramjan exudes character from every pore of her body. She commits herself, on a daily basis, in every job she has undertaken, to preserve the dignity of the oppressed, repressed, downtrodden, disabled, mentally challenged and underdogs and disadvantaged.

She is a woman of the highest distinction. Her work has been to bring her power of administration and intelligence to improve the lot of all Australians, especially those with special needs, physical and mental disabilities, children without parents, tortured sufferers of schizophrenia, those sad souls to whom life has delivered higher hurdles.

Abbott entered power politics, rising on the shoulders of those before him and building a big picture that contained him at the centre. His spin is not confined to bicycles. Like little George Bush said, swaggering is Texan for walking. Abbott swaggers. Not like a swagman but a bagman for big business.

Abbott likes women around him, so do I. They are smarter. Like Ramjan, they are more generous, kinder and emotionally honest. Ramjan built houses of bricks in her career, Abbott a house of sticks.

In law, good character means, among other things, that what such a person says about a matter is more likely to be believed. If Ramjan says she was intimidated, surrounded by fists, then I believe her. If Abbott could not recall it, then I would have believed that, too. When he changed his mind and said it did not happen, I believe Barbara.

The Prime Minister nailed Abbott to the wall this week. We have all done stupid things. Men of character apologise and move on. They don't hide from the fog of the past and suddenly remember. I have been accused of living in a glass house of misogyny and sexism myself. When I appeared with Penny Wong on Q&A, I whispered to her that we had something in common. She turned to me quickly - ''We both love beautiful women''. She laughed, I think.

Abbott could not laugh when Gillard stripped him of all his emperor penguin's clothes in the chamber. One thing he could do is get dressed, get on his bicycle and cycle down to Barbara Ramjan's house and apologise.
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 Tuesday October 2012

Ladylike: Julia Gillard’s Misogyny Speech

Posted by Amelia Lester

Australians living in the United States are accustomed to their American friends passing along “news” from back home about dingoes and crocodiles. Australia’s a long way away, after all. But this morning, something weirdly substantial made the rounds: a fifteen-minute clip of Australian parliamentary proceedings in which Australia’s first woman Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, calls the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, a misogynist, and does so with genuine anger. “I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man,” Gillard said in her opening. “If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn’t need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror.”

The occasion of Gillard’s speech, and of Abbott’s motion, was a gem of the gaffe-driven news cycle that American and Australian politics share: the Speaker of the House, a man by the Dickensian name of Slipper, sent texts to a staffer in which he compared female genitalia to a particular kind of shellfish and described a party colleague, seemingly with auto-correct turned on, as an “ignorant botch.” He’s been sued for sexual harassment.

Slipper had formerly been of Abbott’s party, but had left in the wake of an earlier scandal, in effect joining Gillard’s razor-thin majority coalition. Abbott’s motion demanded that Slipper be fired “immediately”­not parliamentary procedure­because the texts were “vile” and “derogatory.” They are, but it doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to say that Abbott was more concerned with getting rid of a man whom he had once described as a personal friend and who had become an embarrassment, as well as with chipping away at Gillard’s majority. And Abbott’s past statements on women in public office left him wide open to the charge of opportunism.

Gillard cited a few examples in her speech, such as the time, in 1998, when Abbott answered a magazine’s question about the lack of women in parliament with a question of his own: “What if men are by physiology or temperament more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command?” Or when he suggested in parliament that Gillard should “make an honest woman of herself.” (That Gillard is unmarried and does not have children has long been a source of outrage for her opponents, one of whom described her as “barren.”) It’s not just Gillard who has faced Abbott’s demanding standards: in 2004 he described abortion as “the easy way out,” and as Australia debated the introduction of a carbon tax, Abbott directed his appeal against the proposal to “the housewives of Australia, as they do the ironing.” Abbott has not denounced others who have called Gillard “a man’s bitch” and a “witch”­in fact, he’s been photographed standing next to them, outside of Parliament House in Canberra. Gillard, of course, has her own strategic interests here as well­to keep Slipper on her party’s side­but in the process she got everyone talking about something much more important.

“I was very personally offended by those comments,” said Gillard in parliament on Monday, and her voice cracked a little. Abbott’s agitation against mollusc-related sexism came a week after reports of a preposterously offensive remark against Gillard’s father was made at a fund-raiser for Abbott’s party. Australia’s version of Rush Limbaugh, Alan Jones, said that Gillard’s father, who had died a week before, must have “died of shame” at his daughter’s policies. The remark didn’t even make the papers until a couple of days later; there had been no apparent outrage from anyone who attended the event. Abbott, who wasn’t present, did eventually say that Jones was “out of line.” (We haven’t heard such a blistering condemnation since Mitt Romney conceded after Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut” that it was “not the language I would have used.”) Abbott then proceeded to use the same language when calling for Gillard to fire Slipper, describing it as “another day of shame for a government that has already died of shame.”

Abbott’s wife, Margie, gave a speech this past weekend that was seen widely as damage control for the Jones debacle. She said that she was not political, “but just don’t ever try and tell me that my husband of twenty-four years and father of three daughters is on some anti-woman crusade. It’s simply not true.” (In an interview published on the same day, she added that he even loves “Downton Abbey.”) But the fact is that Abbott speaks for a relentless gang of Australians who seem very angry at Gillard, in a bizarrely disproportionate and unpleasant way that suggests the real problem might simply be that she is running the country. Their hatred­comprehensively documented by the Australian writer Anne Summers in a speech given at the University of Newcastle in August­seemed to reach fever pitch around her introduction of the carbon tax this year. Yes, Gillard had introduced the carbon tax despite a promise she made in an election campaign, but­as Summers demonstrates through an ascending series of uglier YouTube clips and protest signs, many featuring explicit pornographic images and the popular nickname “Ju-liar” (first coined by Alan Jones)­what started as a legitimate political disagreement has become deeply personal in nature.

So why is this among the most-shared videos by my American friends today? Purely as political theatre, it’s great fun. Americans used to flipping past the droning on in empty chambers that passes for legislative debate in this country are always taken in by the rowdiness of parliamentary skirmish. It could also be that the political dynamic depicted in the clip parallels the situation in the States: a chief executive who is a “first” took power after a long period of control from the right of center, and whose signature policy achievements have at times been overshadowed by personal vitriol.

Or perhaps it’s that we are right now in one of the rare periods every four years where the American political process provides actual face-to-face debate between the leaders of the two parties. After his performance last week, supporters of President Obama, watching Gillard cut through the disingenuousness and feigned moral outrage of her opponent to call him out for his own personal prejudice, hypocrisy, and aversion to facts, might be wishing their man would take a lesson from Australia.

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 London ~ Friday 12 October 2012

Julia Gillard's attack on sexism hailed as turning point for Australian women

The gender wage gap is barely closing and sexual harassment is rife, but PM's outburst offers feminists fresh hope of change

By Alison Rourke in Sydney

Australian prime minister Julia Gillard attacks the opposition leader, Tony Abbott, calling him a misogynist and a hypocrite See video HERE

When Australia's prime minister, Julia Gillard, told the opposition leader, Tony Abbott, this week that if he wanted to know what misogyny looked like he should pick up a mirror, it was seen by many women as a defining moment for feminism in the country.

"I almost had shivers down my spine," said Sara Charlesworth, an associate professor at the University of South Australia. "I was so relieved that she had actually named what was happening. She was so angry, so coherent and able to register that enough is enough."

Gillard's denunciation of sexism in politics came during a debate about whether the speaker of the house should resign for sending text messages that denigrated women. Abbott told Gillard that unless she sacked Peter Slipper over the texts, she was just as bad as him. "I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever," she fired back across the dispatch box. "The leader of the opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office. Well I hope the leader of the opposition has got a piece of paper and is writing out his resignation."

It was the first time an Australian leader – and possibly any world leader – had delivered such a forthright attack on misogyny in public life. Gillard cited Abbott's past description of abortion as "the easy way out"; his characterisation of Australian women as housewives who did the ironing; and his suggestion that men were better adapted than women to exercise authority and issue commands. She listed Abbott's calls for her to, "politically speaking", make an honest woman of herself, as well as his appearance at political rallies in front of placards that described her as a "witch" and another man's "bitch".

Professor Barbara Pini, who teaches gender studies at Griffith University in Queensland, said it was a watershed moment. "It's incredibly significant to have a prime minister powerfully state that she has experienced sexism and even more powerfully state that she will refuse to ignore it any longer," Pini said. "That the sexism which is so deeply embedded in the Australian body politic was named may give some women licence to express and seek to counter the sexism they have experienced in their working lives."

According to Australia's Human Rights Commission, one in five Australian women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. A recent study by Monash University in Melbourne showed that 57% of women who worked in the media had experienced sexual harassment. It said women were badly under-represented in top levels of media management, holding 10% of positions, compared with an international average of 27%.

The report's author, Louise North, said her findings might go some way to explaining why much of Australia's mainstream media concluded that Gillard's speech was a political disaster. "PM will rue yet another bad call," said one comment piece. "Gillard's judgment was flawed. All she achieved was a serious loss of credibility," said another. That response was in stark contrast to much of the commentary in social media and conversations between women around the country, which were alive with praise for the prime minister's stance.

"Leader writers are generally white, middle-aged men and they have no perception of gender bias," North said. "They don't want to acknowledge that it happens within their newsrooms and they certainly wouldn't be open to challenging some of those positions and changing the public discourse either."

There is little doubt that Australia's precarious balance of political power has produced some of the most aggressive politicking in recent years, partly because Labor is clinging to a minority government, but also as a result of Abbott's personal political style. Charlesworth said Abbott's strategy had been to paint Gillard as untrustworthy, and as well as attacking her on policy he had repeatedly focused on her gender.

"Abbott has set up a very combative atmosphere in which he has explicitly used sexist and misogynist language towards her," she said. "When doing this, he is invoking a deep suspicion of successful women which resides in Australian culture generally. Part of that is that if women are working, they are not being mothers. It means women in the work force are constantly having to fight the sense that they are not legitimate."

As Gillard was neither married nor a mother (a conservative MP once described her as being "deliberately barren"), she challenged the norm of about what was accepted as appropriate femininity in Australian society, Charlesworth said.

The prime minister's political opponents were quick to accuse her of playing the gender card in her attack on Abbott, the Liberal party leader. But Suzi Skinner, director of Roar People, a company that specialises in women's leadership development, said this was unfair. "The dominant image of leadership in this country is overwhelmingly male. To accuse Gillard of playing the gender card goes against all the statistics which tell us that gender is a major issue at leadership level," she said.

Women make up 27% of MPs (slightly better than the 22% in Britain). In business the statistics are far worse: 8% of board members in Australia's top 200 listed companies are female. More than half of those companies have no women directors at all; in Britain 75% of the FSTE 350 companies have at least one female board director.

The gender wage gap in Australia has changed little in two decades. A government report in 2009 showed the difference between men and women's pay for full-time adult employees was 17%, compared with 16.2% in 1992.

So will Gillard's landmark attack on sexism and its impact on Australian women become a catalyst for progress? Skinner was optimistic. "If you can't name it, you can't change it. She's named it and now we all have an opportunity to change," she said.

Tony Abbott's lowest blows

2011 "I think if the prime minister wants to make, politically speaking, an honest women of herself, she needs to seek a mandate for a carbon tax and should do that at the next election."

2010 "What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it's going to go up in price, and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up."

2004 "To a pregnant 14-year-old struggling to grasp what's happening, a senior student with a whole life mapped out or a mother already failing to cope under difficult circumstances, abortion is the easy way out. It's hardly surprising that people should choose the most convenient exit from awkward situations."

1998 "If it's true … that men have more power generally speaking than women, is that a bad thing?"
"But what if men by philosophy or temperament are more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command?"
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THE CONVERSATION Sunday October 14 2012

Gillard’s misogyny speech looks even better than it reads

As the fallout from Julia Gillard’s speech on Tuesday afternoon dies down, I find myself watching the footage again and again. While her words were compelling, the sting in the Prime Minister’s performance was in her delivery. The theatrics of it demonstrated what could be a new Gillard, a stateswoman…

By Katherine Hepworth / Lecturer in Interdisciplinary History at Swinburne University of Technology

Gillard gave a flawless performance. (AAP/Lukas Coch)

As the fallout from Julia Gillard’s speech on Tuesday afternoon dies down, I find myself watching the footage again and again. While her words were compelling, the sting in the Prime Minister’s performance was in her delivery.

The theatrics of it demonstrated what could be a new Gillard, a stateswoman of international calibre. Abbott’s response — in his posture, gesture and facial expression — was unfortunately in keeping with past embarrassments.
Gillard: 1, Abbott: 0
In the misogyny speech, the prime minister’s body language was unusually impassioned.

The delivery was cleverly orchestrated, right down to the strategically shifting eye gaze. Making too much direct eye contact with Abbott or other shadow cabinet members would risk an offensive level of attack. A generalised gaze into the middle distance would not give enough personal impact. The short but direct eye contact with various members of her own party, the opposition, backbenchers and frontbenchers instead added force to her speech.

Abbott, on the other hand, behaved predictably. In recent years, the frequency of Abbott’s verbal faux pas may have reduced slightly, but he still frequently communicates ill-advised responses, both verbal and non-verbal that hurt his and his party’s image. When he does stay on message, Abbott’s non-verbal gestures can contradict his words, presenting an image of conflicted, and therefore ineffective, conservative leadership.

During the misogyny debate, Abbott’s facial expression and posture amounted to an open admission of guilt.

Although at the start of the 15 minutes of Gillard’s speech, the leader of the opposition attempted an air of amused tolerance, this fizzled into a display of frowns, looking down and he can be seen sinking ever lower in his chair. Abbott may have recently learned the “Howard pout” (chin up, lips out) from his mentor, but he is yet to emulate Howard’s impenetrable Teflon attitude in Parliament.

Goodbye to old Labor rules?
Gillard’s delivery in question time could signal a shift in Labor Party public relations; let’s hope so. Labor representatives of recent years have used what I call a “talking heads” approach to public speaking.

The Labor Party has tried to focus all media attention on their candidates' words, with minimal distraction from body language, gesture and facial expression. In this style of delivery, the shoulders remain back, while the hands remain on the lectern with, at the very most, an occasional arm wave. The facial expression remains neutral, smiles and surprise are rare. Jabbing the head forward in a painful-looking manner is the main means of emphasis.

In this style, all evidence that the candidates have personalities and histories beyond the reaches of the party machine is shut away. The overall effect is extremely dull, not to mention a waste of communicative resources.

Only two years ago Gillard’s speeches followed this pattern, her speech on first taking office is a classic example. Kevin Rudd was, and remains, a great proponent of this wooden, reveal-nothing style. Similarly, Bill Shorten, one of the infamous “faceless men”, has also relied on this approach his various performances during television interviews.

Leaving the party line behind
The Gillard speech on misogyny broke the talking heads mould with panache. In this speech, there was none of the typical Labor physical restraint.

Gillard waved both hands, pointed, and even moved her feet. She made jokes, and most importantly, seemed to care. When she stood in a defiant, strong stance, stared at Abbott and said “my father did not die of shame”, her emotion was clear for all to see, however controlled. We could see, and more importantly feel the plea for decency and recognition of past wrongdoing.

It is this that made Gillard more likable overnight, in Australia and internationally. The delivery of the misogyny speech shows Gillard as more than a great deal-maker, and more than a political animal; this speech showed us she’s human.
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Disclosure Statement
Katherine Hepworth does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

The Conversation provides independent analysis and commentary from academics and researchers.
We are funded by CSIRO, Melbourne, Monash, RMIT, UTS, UWA, Canberra, CDU, Deakin, Flinders, Griffith, La Trobe, Murdoch, QUT, Swinburne, UniSA, UTAS, UWS and VU.