‘I tried to do as much as I could’: Julia Gillard gets candid about her time as PM

Oct 10, 2022
Julia Gillard tells of her major regret on her time as Prime Minister. Source: Getty

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard has opened up about her time as leader of the country, lifting the lid on what she wished she’d done differently.

Speaking on the Today Show, Australia’s first and only female leader said she “regrets” not addressing sexism in parliament sooner, a decade on from her famed misogyny speech.

“I tried to do as much as I could as prime minister in the sense that every day was precious, every day we were trying to drive big reforms forward,” Gillard said.

“But on sexism and misogyny, I specifically regret not calling it out earlier.

“I had thought when I first became prime minister that the maximum reaction to me being the first woman would be in the early days and it would wash its way through the system and normalise, but I was clearly wrong on that.

“Knowing what I know now it was going to gather momentum and get worse, potentially if I called it out earlier it could have been a bit easier.

“You never get to run the control test in politics, so we’ll never know.”

Gillard’s speech, in which she slammed the Opposition Leader at the time, Tony Abbott, was heard by women all around the world and is still quoted today, even by upcoming generations who did not witness the historical event.

Her words have been printed on mugs, tea towels, on shirts, and used in TikTok videos to slam sexism.

The former Prime Minister said she wasn’t aware how far-reaching her words would be.

“I knew it was a powerful speech in the parliament because I was actually pretty close to the opposition and could tell from their reactions how the speech is going,” she said.

“And they were getting more withdrawn over time and kind of dropping their heads, I knew it was landing powerfully there.

“I had no insight into the fact that it would make global headlines or that we’d be talking about it a decade later.”

Watch Gillard’s full speech here.

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