Thursday, January 8, 2009

Julia Gillard

I think Julia Gillard is the Deputy Prime Minister. That's about all I know. And I could be wrong I AM fairly sure she's part of the Labor Party, at least....

I'm right!

Good. I like being right.

Gillard was born in Wales. I guess you don't need to be Australian born to be Deputy Prime Minister. Do you have to be born in Australia to be the Prime Minister? In the US, you have to be American-born to become president. I'm not sure about Vice-President.

Here we go. According to Lord Wiki, you do have to be a US citizen. So, I guess for president you don't necessarily have to be born in the US. I guess you'd be qualified if you were born elsewhere, as long as your parents are American.  Maybe?

Gillard's birthday is 29 September 1961.

Birthday website time!

She's a 1 in numerology and a Libra.

I picture that kind of person as being a romantic leader.

Julia Gillard fits the leader part. Right? I'm not sure yet about the romantic thing.

When little Julia was four-years-old, her family migrated to Australia. They went to Adelaide. Why? Was it for work? Did they not like Wales? Were they like me and loved the idea of living in Australia?

Lord Wiki doesn't name which primary school she went to; but he does name the high school. It's Unley High School. That's an unusual name. And it has a rather spooky portrait on it's website. What's the deal with that?

Magikquilter, I think it's a government school.

Gillard went to the University of Adelaide, but then moved and went to the University of Melbourne. I wonder why she moved. Did she move because she wanted to go to a new university? Or did she go to a new university because she needed/wanted to move?

She got a degree in law and arts, then joined a law firm called Slater and Gordon. It's in Werribee which is slightly west of Melbourne. Gillard did Industrial law stuff.

I'm looking at the firm's website. They seem to focus a lot on asbestos stuff. They also deal with divorce, personal injury, etc. Lord Wiki says that in 2005 they negotiated a 4.5 billion dollar settlement with a man whose company sold asbestos products.

It seems that Gillard worked for the law firm for three years before becoming a partner. And she was one of the first female partners that they had.

In 1996, Gillard was the chief of staff to the Victorian Opposition Leader...John Brumby. I'm embarrassed to say, I didn't actually know what a chief of staff did. I mean I've heard of the term before. It's just I never understood the actual role.

According to Lord Wiki, it's an aide. I guess that would be like an assistant. Maybe?

Within the party, Gillard worked for feminism. She drafted an affirmative action plan to get more women in Parliament seats and also helped start Australia's version of Emily's List. Some of you might remember that Penny Wong was involved with this organization.

Gillard became a member of Parliament in 1998. In 2001, she had the shadow portfolio of Population and Immigration. Later, in 2003 she became also responsible for Reconciliation and Indigenous Affairs.

Next, she became the Shadow Health Minister. That sounds so spooky. I love it.

Oh. Here's some fun stuff. There were problems between her and a guy named Tony Abbott. He was moved into the Health Portfolio and there was rivalry between them. What? Why? Lord Wiki doesn't give many details.

In 2006, a poll was done after Gillard had appeared on an ABC program. The people in the poll were asked who'd they want as Labor Leader. 32% picked Gillard. 25% picked Kim Beazley, and only 18% picked Rudd.

I guess maybe Gillard didn't want to be leader. She announced that she wouldn't contest Beazley's leadership. Maybe she prefers to be Deputy Leader? In 2006, she did go for that. Then when Kevin Rudd became leader, the old Deputy Prime Minister, Jenny Macklin let go of the reins. Did Gillard try to take the role from Macklin before this? Did she envision being Deputy Prime Minister under Beazley, or was she saying that once someone else was Prime Minister, she wanted to be the Deputy? And did Gillard not like Macklin (personally or professionally)? Did she want Macklin's job because she felt Macklin wasn't good enough? Or did she just feel it was her turn to be Deputy Leader?

Anyway, now Gillard is the Deputy Prime Minister. She's also the Minister for Education, Employment and workplace Relations. And she's the Minister for Social Inclusion.

I'm looking up Minister for Social Inclusion. I want to know what that is.

Here it is. It's about giving people a fair go. Some of their goals include:

1. addressing the incidence and needs of jobless families with children

focusing on particular locations, neighbourhoods and communities to ensure programs and services are getting to the right places

employment for people living with a disability or mental illness

4. closing the gap for Indigenous Australians.

It sounds like good plans to me.

Julia Gillard is not Australia's first female Prime Minister. Like America, they haven't had one yet. But she is the first woman to temporarily take on the role of Prime Minister. She did this in December 2008 when Rudd was in Bali. And she did it for more days when Rudd went traveling around the world. 

Does the Deputy Prime Minister become Prime Minister every time the Prime Minister leaves the country? I don't think it works that way in the United States. I think the Vice-President only takes on the role of President if the President dies, is unconscious, becomes possessed by Pazuzu, or gets abducted by aliens.

I usually side with Australia on things. Well, of course! Obviously! I AM the girl who wished she was Australian. But with this case, I side with America. What's the deal? Does the Prime Minister not have a cell phone (mobile)? Can he not travel and still be Prime Minister at the same time?

I'm done with Lord Wiki. I'm going to go play video games with Jack, because I need a break from politics. I shall be back later to explore more of the life of Julia Gillard.....

Okay. Never mind. We didn't play video games. We'll do that later. We played The Upside Down Show. It's our new fun game together. I like it because it usually ends with Jack laughing hysterically.

I'm now looking at the Parliament Website. Julia Gillard has an interesting haircut. According to Lord Wiki, her partner is a hairdresser. I wonder if he cuts her hair. 

I know some people are against performing their services on those who are too close to them. I'm not. I say if you're a teacher you can teach your own children. If you're a nurse, you can give your children their shots. If you're a barber, you can cut your family's hair. If you're a plumber, you can fix the toilets in your house. My sister is a nurse practitioner. I sometimes try to convince her to give Jack his shots. She doesn't want to because she's afraid Jack will stop liking her. I disagree. A lot of children have to get shots on a daily basis. Who gives them their shots? I'm guessing the parents. Do these kids end up hating their parents? I don't think so. Jack HATES shots, but he doesn't hate the nurses who give them to him. He doesn't even act angry towards them. He just tries to run out of the building. That's all.

Oh. Wait. Gillard's Parliament Biography says she's single. Is the hairdresser out of her life?

Now I shall read her first speech.

I like this quote,
Our conservative opponents would have Australians believe that our nation will only find its place in an open and competitive global economy if we sign up to the cult of individualism, to the survival of the fittest.

You know, I've talked recently about tolerance. Well, this is one area in which I STRUGGLE to tolerate--the idea that we need to be for ourselves and that we don't need to worry about others. I have a hard time tolerating the viewpoint that the wealthy shouldn't be taxed more. My feeling is you're rich! You won't die if you have to take one less holiday. I could understand if it was about making a completely even playing field; if the wealthy had to give up almost everything. But just a tax increase? How is that going to hurt them?

Gillard has some biographical information in her speech. Her family was assisted passage migrants. What is that?

Lord Wiki says it was a scheme to get British people to migrate to Australia. This was between 1945 and 1972. It's pretty interesting stuff. The purpose was to help populate Australia. They'd give the British folks VERY good airline deals and make them grand promises: nice houses, great jobs, etc. Then once the British arrived, they were often stuck in hostels. Finding a job wasn't as easy as promised.

The British people could leave Australia, but they had to pay for their own passage home. And that was often quite expensive.

That sure is a dirty trick Australia played on people. I wish they'd do it again! That would be awesome! Come on, Australia. Trick me into moving there. I'll totally fall for your promises. I can guarantee you that. And I don't even mind if you put me in a hostel--as long as they have clean bathrooms.

Back to the Gillard family. Daddy Gillard became a psychiatric nurse. Mommy Gillard worked in an aged care facility.

Here's something scary. Gillard says, Perhaps worst of all, under this government we have returned to a system of privilege rather than merit in our universities, a system of allowing the rich to buy a place while those with better entrance marks but not enough money miss out—a system which was eradicated by the Whitlam government when I was in primary. school.

This is not only bad for children who are rejected for financial reasons. It's bad for the teachers. When I was a teacher, there was this very difficult child. He was literally scary...violent. The school refused to do anything about it. Why? His parents had money. They didn't want to lose the child and his mucho dinero.

And what about the poor child who simply doesn't fit into the school environment, but mommy and daddy have enough money to pay for a new gymnasium.  How fair is that to the child?

I think it's great if a school can get some wealthy students. I think we can be assured that there are actually some wealthy families that produce intelligent and well-rounded students. Let those students in and hound the parents for a lot of donations. The rich people's money can go towards making scholarships for family's who wouldn't usually be able to afford the school. But I don't think it's a good idea to let a child into a school only because of their family's money or social status. A child should go to a school that wants them for who THEY are....not for what their parents are.

Now I'm going to read an article. It's about Gillard's history as a student radical activist. This might be fun!

Julia Gillard wanted to scrap the Anzus Treaty. I have no idea what that means.

Okay, it's a military treaty between the United States and Australia, and also between Australia and New Zealand. Why isn't it between United States, Australia, and New Zealand? Why did they avoid a threesome like that?

Oh! It was at one time between New Zealand and the United States. But New Zealand pulled out.

Gillard belonged to a group called the Socialist Forum. They wanted to end the Australia/United States Alliance. That hurts my feelings a bit, but I can understand. I think a part-time alliance would be a good compromise. This would mean that Australia and America are best mates unless a Bush is President. In the case of that event, Australia is allowed to take a temporary break from the alliance.

The group wanted to introduce death duties.

What in the world is that? I'm not even sure how to google it.

Wait. I think I found it. It's taxing dead people--well the inheritance, at least.

I think it's cool that someone so far on the left has such a high position in Australian politics. I think it's less cool that she seems to be denying it. I've been given a clue to why there's grief between Gillard and Tony Abbott. He accuses her of trying to erase her radical past. The article says she denies remembering the radical policies. This means she's either a liar or she has a really bad memory. Neither of those options make me feel very comfortable. I'd be much more respectful of someone who says Yes. I believed all that and still do. Or Yes, I used to believe in that, but I'm more moderate now. People change.

This article answers my VERY important question. She does NOT get free haircuts from her boyfriend.

She likes getting facials. I've never had one. I don't really like being touched by strangers. I got one massage and it was awful. My bladder was acting up and I had to pee in the middle of it. No, I didn't have a Hugh Jackman moment. But they had to stop so I could go use the toilet.

Gillard hasn't gotten Botox. I haven't either.

She likes hot chips and she also likes coffee.

She burns it off by walking.

I feel like I'm doing a story for a celebrity tabloid here.

This article says Gillard is popular with young woman. They send her gifts. People are really excited about her being the First Deputy Prime Minister that is a female. I wonder if these people have gotten the same question that Obama fans get. Would he ever have ever gotten that far if he wasn't black? It's really about race, isn't it? It cracks me up. Yeah, we were so desperate to have a black president, we just went for any old guy. We don't care about his qualifications or talents. We're just so excited that he's black!

Now I'm going to read an ABC transcript from the show Australia Story. I think this is the one that made her popular in the polls I referred to several paragraphs above.

Her dad has six siblings. That means she has a lot of aunts and/or uncles. She probably has a lot of first cousins.

Her parents had been married for forty-eight years at the time of the interview. That's pretty impressive.

One of the reasons the family moved to Australia is Gillard had respiratory problems. The doctor advised them to move to a warmer climate.

She talks about how her parents didn't have much of a formal education, but they're very intellectual. That reminds me of my mom. She never went to college, but she loves to learn. She's always looking up stuff on the Internet. Her numerology number is 7 like me...the learning number!

Then I know people who have degrees from college who are so far from being intellectuals. I'm not saying they're dumb. They just don't really have an interest in learning.

Here. Now I have the name of her primary school. Mitcham Demonstration School. I can't find a website for them. There is a Mitcham school in South Australia, but I'm not sure if that's the same one or not. She does hint that the name has changed, so it probably is the same school.

She's bad at sports. We share that in common! That's for sure.

Another thing we have in common is we were both horrible at home economics. I did so bad in that class. I'm not good at domestic things....sewing, knitting, cooking, gardening, etc.

Gillard says when she was growing up, she wanted to be a teacher. I think I wanted to be a an actress or writer. But the thing is...I ended up being a teacher. So we kind of have that in common.

She talks about how Whitlam took the University fees away. I love that. Is that still happening? I remember reading about it, but I forgot what I found out.

Gillard says her sister's very different from her. While Gillard is career focused, her sister is more family oriented. She works because she has to. She'd give up her job if she won the lottery.

My problem is I focused on both. I went to college with the idea that I'd have a career. At the same time, I dreamed of getting married and being a stay-at-home mom. I guess I never really thought of the contradiction until it was too late. If I could do it over again? I'd probably do things differently. I did have a lot of fun in college, but I think for practical reasons I would skip it. I would get a job and educate myself in my free time. If I found a husband, I'd get married and become a stay-at-home mom. I'd continue to educate myself at home. If I didn't find a husband and I started to worry, maybe then I'd go back to college and start pursuing a career. I think I'd also travel! Yes, definitely travel. I would do one of those work study programs in Australia.

I think people are pushed into college way too early. I think that should happen only for people who have a definite career in mind. I think for the rest of us lost people....I think we should take five-ten years off to work and explore the world. I think it would make a lot more sense. I think Universities should be for people in their thirties, not twenties.

Gillard's sister sounds like me. Gillard says she's almost always there for her kids and they've rarely seen a babysitter. Yep. That's us. We don't use babysitters very often.

She talks about Mark Latham's infamous diaries. She says, If he'd written a book that was less full of personal invective and more full of analysis it would have been a much more powerful book. She does seem to like Latham though; at least that's what I'm getting from the interview. I think she likes him, but it's more about sympathy and concern than admiration.

I'm going to explore Google News now.

I'm not sure I fully understand this article. I think that's happening is miners are asking for a wage increase. Gillard is saying we're all in economic turmoil right now. People are losing jobs left and right. It's not time to ask for a raise. I could probably agree with that. But then I don't know the miner's side of the story. Do they not have enough money to live on?

Keeping people in their jobs seems to be high priority for Gillard. In this article, she urges employers to think carefully before cutting out staff. I think sometimes you have to let people go. But before it's done, other corners should be cut. Maybe less business travel. I don't really understand all this flying around the world for meetings. Just pick up the damn phone. Send an email. Another way to cut costs would be to decrease the salary of those at the top. You don't need to cut so much that they're on the street with a cardboard sign. But you can cut out a new Rolex or a beach house.

Oh no! I'm again losing some respect for Gillard. She has given the Gunn company permission to build their environmentally controversial paper mill. Why?

I do like her stance on the horror that's going on in Gaza. I guess she's with Rudd on this, so I should say I agree with both of them. They think Israel AND Hamas need a huge slap across the face. Okay. They didn't actually use those words. But I think that's what they meant. They just said it in a more diplomatic way.

Hamas and Israel stubbornly fight. They both believe they're the ones who are right. And meanwhile, people die. I think most people have chosen one side over the other. I go back and forth between the two. For the most part, I think they're both incredibly and horrifically wrong. They remind me of when Jack was fighting with his cousin over Thanksgiving. They were awful to each other. One would do something bad and the other would seek revenge. What was their main goal?  Getting the other kid in trouble with the adults. The trick is you do something to annoy your cousin. You do something that you know will push the right buttons. You make them furious. They lose control and do something that's worse than you did. But that's the whole point. You grin while they cry hysterically and attack you. Then you watch with glee as the adults scold them. Who's at fault? Who needs to change, Jack or his cousin? Both. One child needs to stop pushing buttons. It's wrong. It accomplishes nothing. The other child needs to learn self control. They need to learn two wrongs don't make a right.

Yeah, Jack and his cousin remind me of the Middle East. The difference is we didn't have hundreds of casualties.

On a positive note, Jack and his cousin have been getting along much better. We have peace and least for now. Maybe there's hope. Maybe Hamas and Israel will come to their senses too.

On to other things....

Gillard has pledged 2.3 billion dollars for remote education. I wonder what the money will go to? Is it building schools? Buying computers? Paying good teachers? I have vague memories of something I learned in graduate school. It was about how it's not always a lack of funds that are a problem in education, but how the money is used. I don't know. It seems weird to me to give that much money to education. I know people will probably think I'm nuts. And I probably am. But in my mind, you take a child to a library, get them a book and teach them to read. Why does it take so much much money to educate someone? I might be seeing things differently if teachers got a very high salary. But that's usually not the case. I guess maybe it's not a lot of money though. Maybe if you divide 2.3 billion by a lot of schools, it's not really that much. I don't know. I'm just not that impressed when I hear someone wants to give 2.3 billion dollars to education. I think I'd want to know specifically what they plan to do with that money.

I think it's easy to say No child left behind and close the gap. But there has to be more to it than that. You need an actual plan. You need to think....carefully.

Well, I better quit now. It's getting late.

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