16 Oct 2014

Former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard

From Nine To Noon, 10:07 am on 16 October 2014

Julia Gillard Peter Brew BevanJulia Gillard became Australia's first woman Prime Minister in June 2010,  after a coup in which she unseated Kevin Rudd, in his first term of government.

Her subsequent three years in power were dogged by controversy, infighting and leadership tensions, before she was finally dumped as leader, and Kevin Rudd reinstated.

Labor went on to lose that election to Tony Abbot's Liberals and the party is still recovering.

Julia Gillard has written a memoir, called My Story, in which she speaks of her ascent to the top job, and managing a minority government for three years.

At the time of taking the leadership and the Prime Ministership she said only that `good government had lost its way'. 

But in her book, Ms Gillard spares few details in describing a chaotic management style under Kevin Rudd, and her colleagues experiences of it as well as her own. “Kevin Rudd was miserable and paralyzed”  

And then details a subsequent revenge campaign she says nearly scuppered Labor's re-election weeks after she took the leadership.

And which she describes as sabotage and `bastardry'.

“I know what it feels like to lose the Prime Ministership, I’ve done it. So it’s a huge body blow and you are emotionally reeling from that body blow. But you’ve got a choice about how to conduct yourself…our culture has been no matter how bad it hurt, people come together and campaign together during election time. So I was very surprised to see the shredding of those cultural norms within Labour during the days of the election campaign”

Mr Rudd dismissed the book as Ms Gillard's `latest contribution to Australian fiction.'

In the book Julia Gillard also details experiences of sexism at the hands of the media, and Opposition, which led to a excoriating speech in Parliament on misogyny, that went viral on the internet.

As well as a record, from her perspective, of a time and place in Australian politics, it also has insights into the workings of government, and the stresses and pressures on political leadership.

Kathryn Ryan speaks to Julia Gillard...