By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
The Making of Julia Gillard: Prime Minister
By Jacqueline Kent (Viking, $32.95, softcover, 388 pages)
Julia Gillard completed her first year as Prime Minister last Friday being confronted with more questions about her leadership, a reported screaming fight with Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and an all-time low in popularity.
As Australia’s 27th Prime Minister, she did not have a clean ascent to power: her predecessor was the first PM ever to be thrown out by his own party during his first term of office.
The circumstances under which she toppled Kevin Rudd will continue to raise questions. Perhaps, not the kind of story to be expected from someone whose public persona is “grounded and ordinary”.
Nevertheless, Jacqueline Kent’s biography of Australia’s first female Prime Minister outlines that her path to power has been far from smooth, with a career that’s been dotted by battles with powerful factions and jealous rivals.
The most powerful woman in the land thrives on the ‘hurly-burly of politics’, she enjoys exercising power and “understands the culture of the party she is now heading: the ALP is part of her political DNA”.
This thorough account of Julia Gillard’s profession describes her Adelaide childhood, her time as an intense student activist, her battles to get into Parliament and her relationships with the important men in her political life: Kim Beazley, Simon Crean, Kevin Rudd and Mark Latham.
Her livelihood has been a “fair old journey” where the highs are just as great as the lows, but politics can be a hard, relentless and unforgiving game. She has proved that “a woman can thrive in an adversarial environment”.
The Making of Julia Gillard is a perceptive, well-balanced, comprehensible account of a fiercely practical, highly intelligent woman with incredible resilience who refuses to conform to stereotype.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.