By Dr Janice Dudley, Murdoch University Lecturer in Politics:
Julia Gillard’s new role as Prime Minister is a positive move for women in Australian politics, realistically it’s following a pattern of the Labor Party turning to women in difficult electoral circumstances.
The challenge and opportunity for Julia Gillard is to now achieve election as Australia’s first woman Prime Minister in her own right.
She’s highly able, personable and has a reputation not only in terms of policy, but as a team player.
She’s a very effective parliamentary performer and the Opposition will be concerned at her becoming ALP Leader and PM.
This change of leadership is a very clever move by the Labor Party.
The change of leadership gives the Labour party the opp to refocus and change – not so much change its direction but to refocus without being accused of a backflip.
A new leader enables a new approach. Also, she touched on all of the important issues that have been identified as a concern to the electorate and contributing to the loss of popularity in the polls: climate change and the proposed mining tax.
What this leadership change demonstrates is that the Labor Party is a party that transcends its leader, unlike the Liberal party which is very much organised around its leader.
The Labor Party is willing to be ruthless, prepared to change its leader in the interests of its broader and long-term objectives – unlike the Liberal party, which is very much organised around its leader and shaped in terms of its leader.
An earlier example of this was when Bill Hayden was tapped on the shoulder just prior to the 1983 election.
For now, it will be a momentous and historic occasion when Julia Gillard is sworn in as Australia’s first woman PM by Australia’s first woman Governor General.