Law and democracy Defining Moments
Balancing passion for change in a resilient democracy
4.5 The rise and fall of a female Prime Minister
One of the most significant positions in Australian democracy is that of the Prime Minister.
What qualities and abilities does it take to be a prime minister? What challenges do they face? How can gender and other personal differences in Australia’s prime ministers make a difference in that role?
Read the Defining Moment in Australian history: 2010 Australia’s first female governor-general, Quentin Bryce, swears in Australia’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard and Prime Ministers of Australia: Julia Gillard and answer the following questions.
1. What was significant about 24 June 2010 for Australian politics?
2. What qualities do you think Australia's first female Prime Minister might have needed?
3. Australia’s first female prime minister was Julia Gillard. What was her background before Parliament?
4. What were her achievements as Prime Minister?
5. What difficulties or problems did she have to overcome in office?
6. How was she replaced?
7. What does her prime ministership help you understand about the nature of Australian democracy?
8. What does her prime ministership help you understand about identity, diversity and cohesiveness in Australian political, social and civic life?
When asked about the influence of gender on her prime ministership Gillard said:
‘It doesn't explain everything, it doesn't explain nothing, it explains some things, and it is for the nation to think in a sophisticated way about those shades of grey. What I am absolutely confident of is it will be easier for the next woman and the woman after that and the woman after that and I'm proud of that.’
National Archives of Australia, Julia Gillard, https://www.naa.gov.au/explore-collection/australias-prime-ministers/julia-gillard, viewed 1 September 2020
9. What do you think this means?