Gillard Now Breathing Down Rudd’s Neck

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is now Australia’s 17th longest-serving prime minister, just behind the 16th place-getter, Kevin Rudd.

Gillard is Australia’s 27th prime minister and has now been in the job for 2 years, 2 months, 16 days. Today she surpasses the term in office of Labor’s Depression-era prime minister James Scullin.

She will overtake Kevin Rudd’s term of 2 years, 6 months, 21 days on January 14 next year.

Julia Gillard’s Father Dies, 83; Prime Minister Flies Home From APEC Meeting

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is flying home from the APEC meeting in Vladivostok, following the death of her father in Adelaide.

Julia and John Gillard

Mr. John Gillard was 83. He brought his young family from Wales to Australia in 1966.

Gillard was due to arrive at the APEC meeting for today’s talks. Instead, she was represented by Trade Minister Craig Emerson who informed Russian President Vladimir Putin of Gillard’s return to Australia. Putin then announced Gillard’s absence to the assembled delegates.

Emerson-Putin

Vladimir Putin

In a statement released in Vladivostok, Gillard said: “My father was my inspiration. He taught me that nothing comes without hard work and demonstrated to me what hard work meant as a shift worker with two jobs. He taught me to be passionate about fairness. He taught me to believe in Labor and in trade unionism. But above all, he taught me to love learning and to understand its power to change lives… I will miss him for the rest of my life.”

Full text of statement released by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

STATEMENT FROM THE PRIME MINISTER

My father, John Gillard, passed away this morning in Adelaide.

He has battled illness in recent years but his death is a shock for me and my family.

Dad lived a long and full life. He was brought up in a coal mining village and left school at 14, but transcended these humble beginnings to become a man with a love of ideas, political debate and poetry.

Migrating to Australia in 1966, he studied for a new life in a new land and became a psychiatric nurse. For more than two decades, he showed his capacity for love and care to those most in need of help.

My father was my inspiration. He taught me that nothing comes without hard work and demonstrated to me what hard work meant as a shift worker with two jobs. He taught me to be passionate about fairness. He taught me to believe in Labor and in trade unionism.

But above all, he taught me to love learning and to understand its power to change lives. He always regretted his family background meant he had not proceeded on to higher education as a young man. He was determined that I had the opportunities he was denied.

I will miss him for the rest of my life.

I plan to travel home to Adelaide as soon as possible to grieve with my family. I ask that my family’s privacy be respected at this time.

Minister Emerson will take my place in the remaining APEC forums today and tomorrow.

VLADIVOSTOK, RUSSIA
8 SEPTEMBER 2012

Gonski: Gillard Announces New School Funding Arrangements

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced new school funding arrangments in response to the Gonski report.

Julia Gillard

The funding changes will start in 2014, after the next election. Major changes will be phased in over the years to 2020.

Gillard announced the changes in an address to the National Press Club in Canberra.

  • Listen to Gillard’s National Press Club Address

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Text of email from Prime Minister Julia Gillard to Labor members and supporters.

Today, in response to the Gonski review into school funding, I’m announcing major improvements to the way we fund schools to make sure that every child has access to a world class education.

As you’ve no doubt heard me say before, I believe in the power of education to change lives. It changed mine. Because my parents were passionate about education, they wanted their daughter to enjoy all its benefits.

So as a young girl, I was painstakingly taught to read by my mother before I went to school. As luck would have it, the public schools I was zoned to attend were great schools.

I liked school and succeeded at it, but even in great schools like Unley High, I was conscious of the kids who struggled and got left behind.

That’s why it’s so important for me to make sure every child has the opportunity to get the education they deserve, regardless of where they live or what their family background is.

Currently the gap in reading, maths and science between disadvantaged and advantaged students is more than two years of schooling. That’s not good enough.

That’s why there’ll be extra money for the schools and students who need it most: students from lower income families, indigenous students, students with a disability, those with limited English skills and kids in regional and remote areas.

We’re also:

  • Giving new teachers more time to plan their classes and mentoring with more experienced teachers
  • Setting a benchmark funding amount for each student, based on the costs in schools which are already achieving great results
  • Introducing higher entry requirements for teaching
  • Giving teachers annual performance reviews and giving feedback on how they can improve
  • Giving school principals more power to run their schools the way they want, including hiring staff and controlling their budgets

These are just some of the changes we need to build an education system that gives every child every opportunity. By 2025, I want Australia to be in the top five countries for reading, science and maths.

However, to make this a reality we’re going to need co-operation from the State Governments – and we know that Tony Abbott doesn’t support these reforms. It won’t be easy to get this over the line, and over the coming weeks and months we’re going to have fight hard together to make this happen.

Your voice is important. Please let your friends and family know about how we want to improve our schools so that they can speak up too, because this is a fight we can’t afford to lose. We owe it to every Australian child to make sure our schools don’t leave anyone behind anymore.

Julia

Liberals Remember The Labor-Greens Anniversary

On the anniversary of the Labor-Greens agreement signed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2010, this is an advertisement posted on YouTube by the Liberal Party.

This is the text of a release from the Liberal Party.

Two years of a compromised government

Gillard

Two years ago today, Julia Gillard and Bob Brown signed a deal that gave the Greens unprecedented power in the Australian government – and gave us all the world’s biggest Carbon Tax.

The Labor-Greens’ partnership has been a disaster for Australia. Instead of the federal government providing certainty and steadiness, their unpredictability, dishonesty and new taxes have shredded confidence.

For two years, Labor and the Greens have gone after middle Australia – imposing the Carbon Tax, cutting the private health insurance rebate, slashing childcare rebates, and attacking superannuation. [Read more…]

Anne Summers: The Political Persecution Of Australia’s First Female PM

This is the video of Dr. Anne Summers’ Human Rights and Social Justice Lecture at the University of Newcastle.

The speech is titled: “Her Rights At Work: The Political Persecution of Australia’s First Female Prime Minister”.

Summers says: “In this lecture I want to examine what I contend is the sexist and discriminatory treatment of Australia’s first female prime minister by the Opposition and by some elements in Australian society.”

Gillard Promises Funding Increase To Independent Schools

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has promised that every independent school in the nation will receive an increase in funding.

Julia Gillard

Addressing the Association of Heads of Independent Schools, Gillard defended private schools. She said: “I’ve never looked at a big independent school in an established suburb and thought ‘That’s not fair’. I look at a big independent school in an established suburb and thing ‘That’s a great example’.”

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Gillard Tackles Electricity Prices

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has written to state premiers asking them to prepare for a new national agreement on energy prices by the end of the year.

Julia Gillard

Gillard said power prices have risen unsustainably because of over-investment that has driven up energy costs by 48% in the past four years. “And ordinary businesses and households have been entirely uncompensated for these significant cost increases.”

“Australia needed a carbon price,” Gillard said. “Australia did not need price increases of fifty per cent or more for households over the last four years.” She said the market for supplying energy services in Australia needs to be more efficient.”

The Prime Minister said her preference is to work co-operatively through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). “We won’t lightly use the big stick of regulation, of stronger powers for the Energy Regulator and the ACCC. But it’s a stick we hold and which we’ll use if required. One way or another, we’re going to get this done.”

  • Listen to Gillard’s speech (25m)

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  • Listen to Julia Gillard & Martin Ferguson answer questions (33m)

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  • Download a copy of Gillard’s speech (PDF)

Text of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s speech to the Energy Policy Institute of Australia.

ELECTRICITY PRICES: THE FACTS

Too often the cost of electricity is talked about in two completely separate public conversations.

One conversation is about power bills. There’s a very concrete discussion going on at the kitchen table, in the school carpark and in the front bar, about this.

Power bills have become the new petrol prices: not just an essential of life that always seems to be going up, but a vital commodity, where what we consume each day, or pay every quarter, seems beyond our control.

The other conversation is about energy markets. [Read more…]

As NSW And Victoria Offer NDIS Money, A Political Win For Gillard

5.10pm – New South Wales has joined Victoria in offering to contribute to a trial of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has welcomed the breakthrough.

Julia Gillard

Earlier this afternoon, Premier Ted Baillieu announced that Victoria would contribute $42 million to the trial. Shortly afterwards, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell offered to provide $35 million for a trial, less than the federal government was asking.

Speaking at a 5pm press conference, Gillard said: “I am now very optimistic that we will see NDIS launch sites in NSW and Victoria. We still have work to do with NSW but I’m optimistic. I want to see a robust launch site in the Hunter.”

O’Farrell tweeted: “Testing goodwill – both NSW and Victoria have come halfway and we now hope the Commonwealth will equally show a determination to end the impasse.”

The Victorian and NSW decisions represent an important political win for Gillard that comes after two days of pressure on the coalition premiers.

Nevertheless, the outcome is a tactical victory for Gillard. Whilst ensuring a full-scale trial of the NDIS is now likely in 2013, no decision has been made about ongoing funding.

Newspaper reports today on this week’s COAG meeting said the coalition premiers were willing to support a Medicare-style levy to fund the NDIS. The reports said Gillard rejected this out of fear that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott would mount another “great big new tax” campaign.

Unless Gillard can lock in a decision on funding, the final shape of the scheme will fall to the next government.

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Coalition Premiers Opt Out Of NDIS Trial; COAG Fractures

The political pressure on Prime Minister Julia Gillard stepped up a notch today as the four coalition premiers refused to sign up to a trial of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Julia Gillard

A meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) fractured with the announcement of three trial sites in the Labor-held jurisdictions of South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT.

The Coalition premiers from New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia all refused accept the federal government’s terms for participation in the trial.

New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell argued that the Commonwealth should fund the whole scheme, whilst Gillard said that $70 million from NSW and $30 million from Victoria would have ensured trial sites in those states.

The political decision of the non-Labor premiers highlights the sense of impermanence that now pervades decisions of the Gillard government.

Criticism of the state coalition governments began immediately after the announcement. Following the parliamentary impasse over asylum seekers, this decision is likely to increase public cynicism and disillusionment about the political process and the hung parliament.

  • Listen to the COAG leaders’ press conference (46m)

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[Read more…]

When Is A Shift Not A Shift?

A frontpage report in the Financial Review this morning invited readers to believe that union support for Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s leadership was “shifting”.

A closer read showed that a meeting at the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) on Tuesday discussed the Labor leadership but the union leaders remained supportive of Gillard, although conscious that “time is running out”.

Union and political figures have been at pains during the day to dispute the accuracy of the report. They have adamantly denied suggestions of a “shift”.

Perhaps the most reliable take-out from the Financial Review report is the claim that union leaders were concerned about the advent of an Abbott government. Their attitude to the leadership is reflected in their desire to avoid an early election that could result from any attempt to remove Gillard.

Media critics have been quick to jump on the report as further evidence of the media’s preoccupation with leadership at the expense of policy. Others see it as evidence of a shift to the right under the Financial Review’s new editor, Michael Stutchbury.

However, it seems clear that another decision on the Labor leadership is likely over the next few months. What isn’t clear is whether the obstacles to a Rudd revival can be overcome. Moreover, it isn’t clear whether the party has the capacity to change leaders without destroying the government and precipitating an election. [Read more…]