Don’t say we haven’t been warned. Our new Prime Minister is not the mainstream, centrist leader that the media want us to think she is. Julia Gillard comes with a lot of ideological baggage from her radical-left past.
For several years she has played down her past political affiliations, attempted to mainstream herself and altogether presented an agreeable image to the public.
So appealing is she that she has won plaudits from across the political spectrum, even from conservatives such as Christopher Pearson and Janet Albrechtsen.
The left-dominated media, no doubt with an eye on the forthcoming federal election, have bent over backwards to depict Julia Gillard as, if anything, a conservative. They have reminded us that she was brought to power with the help of Labor’s right-wing factions. Thus, so the story goes, she will be beholden to Labor’s right and not stray far from moderate policies.
In the past week, Julia Gillard herself has tried to connect with conservative voters, even going so far as to hint that she would be prepared to take a harder line on asylum-seekers.
This is all for public consumption before the election. What she will be like after an election victory, when she has her own mandate to govern and is no longer so beholden to Labor power-brokers, is another question altogether.
Then we will see just how much of her radicalism she has shed and whether she really is the centrist Labor figure she would like us to think she is.
Ms Gillard has long been a prominent figure of Labor’s powerful left-wing feminist caucus, Emily’s List, which was founded by two former Labor premiers, Joan Kirner (Victoria) and Carmen Lawrence (Western Australia).
The stated aim of Emily’s List is to raise money to help “progressive”, i.e., pro-abortion, women get elected to parliament.
“Emily” stands for Early Money Is Like Yeast. (News Weekly, September 1, 2007).
Joan Kirner, whom Ms Gillard has described as a mentor and friend, was one of the driving forces behind the passage of Victoria’s notorious 2008 abortion laws, which not only decriminalised abortion, but legalised late-term abortions right through nine months of pregnancy.
Ms Gillard has been unswervingly faithful to radical feminist orthodoxy. In 2000, as a member of a House of Representatives standing committee on education, she adopted a very hostile tone towards two members of the public who presented scientific data about the biological and psychological differences between the sexes and the specific educational needs of boys. (News Weekly, February 17, 2007).
Julia Gillard’s first foray into politics was in the early 1980s, when, as a university law student, she became active in the now-defunct Australian Union of Students (AUS).
The AUS was then totally dominated by the extreme left. In 1983 — the year she was elected AUS president — an AUS annual council defeated heavily a call to oppose “all acts of terrorism and political violence” (AUS Annual Council 1983: motion N28).
Furthermore, the AUS annual council declined to recognise the rights of religious clubs and societies at universities to “express their views on campus” or to have access to campus facilities (AUS Annual Council 1983: motion N34).
The AUS declared 1983 to be the International Year of the Lesbian.
It also adopted a policy on prostitution which said, in part: “Prostitution takes many forms and is not only the exchange of money for sex. … Prostitution in marriage is the transaction of sex in return for love, security and house-keeping.” (Quoted by Helen Trinca, The Australian, April 6, 1984, p.7).
This bizarre statement made headlines across Australia. Anti-AUS student activists produced posters with the slogan: “AUS says your mother is a prostitute!”
By early 1984, not only Liberals, but moderate Labor and Jewish students, were campaigning vigorously to abolish the AUS. While Julia Gillard and her left-wing colleagues were defending the union, campus after campus was seceding from it, depriving it of funds and bringing about its rapid collapse.
From 1984 until 1993, Ms Gillard became a prominent figure in the militant left Socialist Forum, which had recently been formed by disaffected members of the Communist Party of Australia and Labor’s left-wing. It sought, among other things, to remove Australia from the ANZUS alliance and to twin Melbourne with Leningrad (re-named St Petersburg since the fall of communism).
Julia Gillard has made light of her youthful radicalism, and has been painstakingly careful to present herself as a moderate.
It is worth remembering, however, what she once wrote for the Socialist Forum on how the extreme Left could advance its agenda by giving “strategic support for Labor governments”.
She said: “We need to recognise the only possibility for major social change is under a long period of Labor administration. Within that administration the Left needs to be willing to participate to shape political outcomes, recognising the need to except (sic) often unpalatable compromises in the short term to bolster the prospect of future advance.” (Quoted by Andrew Bolt, “Gillard’s plan for power”, Herald Sun, October 29, 2007).
Don’t say we haven’t been warned.
Helen Trinca, “New right now in vogue on the campus”, The Australian, April 6, 1984, page 7.
Babette Francis, “My unhappy memories of Julia”, News Weekly, February 17, 2007.URL: www.newsweekly.com.au/articles/2007feb17_o.html
Babette Francis, “Emily’s List — who and what are they?”, News Weekly, September 1, 2007. URL: www.newsweekly.com.au/articles/2007sep01_alp.html
Andrew Bolt blog, “More than just red hair”, Herald Sun (Melbourne), October 19, 2007. URL: http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/column_more_than_just_red_hair/
Andrew Bolt blog, “Gillard’s plan for power”, Herald Sun (Melbourne), October 29, 2007.
This article first appeared in News Weekly and is republished by permission.