Julia Gillard: First female prime minister and governor-general of Australia

In the annals of Australian politics, Julia Gillard stands tall as a groundbreaking figure. She made history in 2010 as the country’s first female Prime Minister, shattering a barrier that had stood for over a century.

But her story is about far more than a single ‘first’; it’s about determination, complex policy battles, and the challenges – both personal and political – that she faced along the way.

Early Life: From Wales to Australia

Julia Gillard
Julia Gillard

Julia Gillard wasn’t born into politics. She was born in Barry, Wales, in 1961. When she was five, her family emigrated to Australia for a better life. They settled in Adelaide, and it was there that Gillard’s interest in social justice began to grow.

A childhood illness prevented her from playing sports, but she excelled academically and developed a passion for debate.

Studying Law and Entering the Political Fray

Gillard went on to study law at the University of Melbourne. While there, she became deeply involved in student politics, foreshadowing her future career trajectory. After graduating, she worked as a lawyer specializing in industrial relations – a field that would prove crucial to her later political work.

Her rise through the ranks of the Labor Party was steady. In 1998, she was elected to the Australian House of Representatives. Gillard was known for her intellect, work ethic, and fiery debating style.

Deputy Prime Minister and a Historic Transition

By 2007, Gillard had risen to the position of Deputy Prime Minister. Her loyalty to the sitting Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, initially seemed steadfast. However, declining popularity and internal party tensions led to a dramatic change in 2010.

Gillard challenged Rudd for leadership of the Labor Party, and won. In doing so, she ascended to the highest political office in Australia.

Julia Gillard: Prime Minister

Her tenure as Prime Minister was marked by both landmark achievements and bitter controversy. Some of her key policy wins included:

  • National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS): This groundbreaking program provided support services for Australians with disabilities.
  • Carbon Pricing Scheme: A bold effort to combat climate change, though met with fierce opposition.
  • Gonski Education Reforms: Investing in more equitable schooling throughout Australia.

Misogyny and Resilience

Gillard’s years as Prime Minister were also stained by appalling sexism and misogyny from both political opponents and certain sections of the media.

Her now-iconic “misogyny speech” in Parliament became a rallying cry against gender discrimination in politics. Amidst unrelenting criticism, she remained fiercely determined, showing remarkable resilience.

End of Her Premiership and Continued Impact

In 2013, Gillard lost a second leadership challenge to Kevin Rudd, marking the end of her time as Prime Minister.

However, she remains a respected figure in Australian public life. Since leaving politics, she has become a global advocate for education and women’s leadership.


What were some of Julia Gillard’s biggest challenges as Prime Minister?

Managing a minority government, combatting misogynistic attacks, and navigating complex policy battles.

How long was Julia Gillard Prime Minister?

She served from 2010 to 2013.

What is Julia Gillard doing now?

She is a prominent international advocate for education and women’s empowerment.

Did Julia Gillard ever marry?

No, but she has a long-term partner, Tim Mathieson.

Leave a Comment