Gillard hasn’t changed since student days, Labor’s Richard Marles says
“For as long as I’ve known Julia Gillard, and I’ve known her a very long time, she’s the same person I knew, to be honest, back in student politics as she is now,” Richard Marles, the federal Labor member for Corio, told Melbourne ABC radio this morning.
“Somebody who is very sensible, somebody who is very pragmatic and somebody who tries to build consensus and cooperation around ideas,” Marles said.
The question, of course, is whether the moderate image promoted these days is the real Julia Gillard? Or does Australia’s prime minister still believe in the ideas that fuelled her student activism? For example, the national education curriculum that has been developed during her term as education minister reflects a left wing culture, as Kevin Donnelly has well documented.
Jai Martinkovits explores the question in a recent post on his blog. He writes:
In the early 1980’s Ms. Gillard had her first introduction into politics, whilst studying law at The University of Adelaide, joing the now-defunct Australian Union of Students (AUS). In 1982, after moving to Melbourne, she was elected National Education Vice-President, and the following year, President.
During this year, the AUS was totally dominated by the extreme-left. She remained as President until early 1984 during which year, moderate Labor, Liberal and Jewish students campaigned vigorously to abolish the AUS. Ms. Gillard and her left-wing colleagues continued to defend the union until it collapsed from lack of funds as more and more students left.
Being elected to take leadership of an organisation, particularly the level of President, surely requires two things. Firstly, it requires a strong belief in what the organisation is espousing, coupled with a strong drive to advance its agenda; and secondly, the strong support of those involved, particularly that of its core leaders.
Some of the outrageous policies that the AUS adopted are detailed below:
• Adopted a policy on prostitution which, in part, said “Prostitution takes many forms and is not only the exchange of money for sex … Prostitution in marriage is the transaction of sex in return for love, security and housekeeping”.
• Supported all varieties of abortion, including during late term pregnancy.
• Asserted that ALL men exercise the threat of rape, ranging from subtle appeals to a woman’s mistaken sense of obligation, to direct threats, blackmail and even physical force.
• Declared 1983 to be the International Year of the Lesbian, in an era when globally, issues such as the threat of nuclear conflict were at the forefront of mainstream concern.
• Grudgingly conceded that heterosexual coupling was a legitimate norm on campus.
•Declared that ‘All women are oppressed because they are women’.
• Supported the use of self-evaluation (students marking their own work!) in preference to independent, formal assessment by qualified academics. This policy extended to school students.
• Supported banning any government funding to non-government schools.
• Supported infiltrating objective education programs to manipulate the curriculum, to covertly influence students’ perceptions of social order.
Read The Real Julia by Jai Martinkovits.
Australian Conservative referred to the way the mainstream has been quite happy to ignore or play down Gillard’s radical past in a 8 February 2008 post about the now defunct Bulletin magazine. Here is an adaption of the passage from that article:
Three weeks before the start of the 2007 federal election campaign, the Bulletin magazine took up an issue that had the potential to create difficulty for the ALP: the radical past of its deputy leader, Julia Gillard.
“RED ALERT” the cover announced. An eyebrow blurb read: “Julia Gillard says she has nothing to hide. Plenty disagree. So who can you trust?” It was an interesting cover and raised an intriguing question.
The way The Bulletin answered the question about Julia Gillard’s radical past characterised the way much of the media had firewalled Labor’s deputy leader from the time she had been elected. Her past was a place to which they chose not to go.
A common tactic used by journalists to avoid scrutiny of Gillard’s early political life was to brand any such probing as mudslinging. The Bulletin’s profile was framed around the proposition that “the knives are out as she and Kevin Rudd get set for an election campaign that promises to be the dirtiest yet.”
Paul Daley, the magazine’s national affairs editor, described what the government had “slung” at her.
According to Daley, Gillard had withstood accusations that: Kevin Rudd was hiding her; she was “deliberately barren”; she had “a handbag full of knives” with which to “stab” Rudd; she had striking red hair; she had a nasal hybrid of native Welsh and adopted Australian accents; she had had a number of men in her life; Mark Latham endorsed her. All of those things, apart, perhaps, from the unfortunate “deliberately barren” remark made by Liberal senator Bill Heffernan, were lightweight stuff. According to a disingenuous Daley, we are supposed to call it “dirt”. Daley also included another accusation that the Liberals were supposed to have “slung” at Gillard: that she would turn Australia into some sort of “Trotskyite caliphate”. That, obviously, went to the heart of Gillard’s political beliefs. Since when has it been mudslinging to examine a politician’s political development?
The sound of Gillard’s voice, the colour of her hair, the suggestion that she is personally ambitious – all of these things provided a smokescreen for Daley to avoid an examination of some enlightening aspects of Gillard’s political past.
In his story, Daley completely omitted any reference to Julia Gillard’s association of some ten years or more with the Socialist Forum, an organisation set up in Melbourne in the mid-1980s in the dying days of the Communist Party of Australia.
Julia Gillard held a number of positions in the Forum, served on its management committee and as it public officer.
The Socialist Forum’s communist connections are clear. The organisation was established to provide a gateway into the ALP for former Communist Party members. Long-time CPA apparatchik Bernie Taft refers to the formation of the Socialist Forum in his memoir:
Shortly after our departure from the [Communist] party, we called a meeting of people who were interested in forming the type of organisation that we proposed. Over two hundred people from different walks of life attended, and the socialist Forum was formed. Its membership was made up of a broad range of people on the Left, as well as non-aligned people with socialist commitment. The Forum promptly began to promote serious discussions about the problems facing the Left.
Gillard assumed a prominent role in the organisation. A Forum newsletter for January 1986 refers to Gillard and Mark taft as “organisers”.
All of this information about the Socialist Forum, the hard left causes it espoused and promoted, is on the public record. Daley referred to none of it. He reduced Gillard’s left wing associations to her past membership of the Victorian Socialist Left faction of the ALP and quoted an unidentified source who ridiculed the idea that Gillard was an agent of the Left.
Of course, creating awareness of Gillard’s radical past would have been unhelpful for Labor. It would have raised questions about the “conservative” branding that Rudd and his colleagues were pushing. It had the potential to create doubt about the wisdom and safety of electing the Rudd-Gillard team.
These days Gillard presents as a moderate—even as “conservative”—and gets the help of people who should know better as she does so.