Gillard government derailed by distractions, new book finds

Tue 11 February 2014

Australia’s first female prime minister fell victim to a series of “distractions” which prevented her government from gaining traction, according to a new book edited by ANZSIG Professor Chris Aulich that was launched in late January by the Hon. Dr Andrew Leigh.

Chris Aulich, a professor of public policy administration from the University of Canberra Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, edited The Gillard Governments, the 11th book in a series from the University uncovering the key themes of successive administrations.

Professor Aulich said: “The years 2010 to 2013 saw a remarkable period in Australian political history. Our first female prime minister successfully won a leadership challenge, successfully formed a minority government, but then struggled in government. Three years and three days after her challenge she was overthrown by the very man she had originally dethroned. This book looks at what went wrong.”

Professor Aulich assembled a variety of contributors to examine all aspects of the period of government from policy setting to legacy. The complexities of minority government were also explored and how the arrangements with the Greens and independents may have contributed to Ms Gillard’s undoing.

“What was particularly striking though, was that author after author came back to the theme of distractions. Gillard and Labor just couldn’t gain traction with their policy ideas, because of distractions – not least of these was the prime minister’s gender.”

“This book shows there can be little doubt that Julia Gillard’s position as our first female prime minister and the relentless campaign of denigration that pursued her contributed to her downfall.

“We as a nation have to ask ourselves what the legacy of this will be for other women who assume positions of significant power in the Australian community.”

The legacy of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments was one of the topics addressed in the recent three day Public Policy Network Annual Conference, with speakers covering issues including gender politics, the environment, local government and the transition between administrations.

A copy of Andrew Leigh’s speech from the launch can be found here.

Click here to purchase a copy of the book


Media release adapted from the University of Canberra.

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