The nation’s first-ever female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, knows better than most that Australia truly is the land of opportunity, writes STEVE JACKSON.
For our nation’s first female Prime minister, the challenge has only just begun. But if anyone is well-equipped for the contest that lies ahead, it’s Julia Gillard.
Faced with calming the country in the wake of the greatest political shock in its history, the flame-haired politician has appealed to the nation for support, just hours after ousting former prime minister Kevin Rudd – the first leader ever axed in his first term.
“I certainly acknowledge I have not been elected Prime Minister by the Australian people,” Julia said on Thursday morning.
“In the coming months I will ask the Governor General to call a general election so that the Australian people can exercise their birthright and choose their prime Minister. Between now and this election I seek their consideration and their support.”
It is a challenge she won’t face alone. Along with her allies in the Australian Labor Party, doubtless still split in some factions by her leadership coup, she will embark on the journey ahead with her long-time beau, Tim Mathieson, by her side.
Her 50-year-old partner, though, will be of more personal solace than political assistance. Having thrown herself into her career, her love life has always had a strong political bent with romances with union officials Michael O’Connor and Bruce Wilson, as well as fellow Labor pollie Craig Emerson.
But when she met Tim, a hairdresser, in Melbourne salon Heading Out, it was a relationship built on a different foundation. Indeed, he admits he knows almost nothing of politics and even had to ask whether she was a state or federal minister when they first started dating.
To read the full story see this week's Woman's Day, on sale June 25, 2010.