Julia Gillard’s First Year
365 days ago, Julia Gillard’s cabinet was sworn in, after Independent MPs Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor threw their support behind the ALP. A year on, and how is her government faring?
It may seem to some that the Gillard government have yet to have a success, however this is certainly not the case. Under Gillard, Australia has seen
- A paid parental leave scheme that provides new mothers with $570 a week for 18 weeks.
- the Queensland Flood Levy: a one of payment made in order to assist the rebuilding of Queensland after the terrible floods of January 2011.
- the beginning of the construction of the NBN in Tasmania and NSW.
- A deal reached on health between Federal and State Governments.
- A revamped mining tax, that reduces the burden on companies.
However, due to the nature of the Parliament, there has only been attention paid on two main issues, the carbon pricing scheme and the issue of asylum seekers, and the last few months have not been good to the Gillard government on either issue.
The selling of the cabron pricing scheme is an uphill struggle for Gillard, as she is constantly clashing with the opposition over several points, including:
- That Gillard promised there would not be a carbon tax;
- That it would not achieve anything on a global scale;
- The burden on families is too much.
As it happens, almost to mark the anniversary of a year in government, the Parliament began today debating the issue it seems that they’ve spent the last year discussing, the carbon pricing scheme. The scheme is expected to pass the Parliament by the middle of November, and will come into force on 1 July 2012, no doubt when the issue will resurface again. But, there may be some peace between the passage of the bills and next July.
The other pivotal issue has been asylum seekers. The opposition has been applying pressure on the Government, especially since the High Courts decision last week, to reopen Nauru, and restart the Howard’s Government Pacific Solution. However, such a move by Gillard would certainly not endear her to the left wing of her party.
One important road bump to also consider was the live export fiasco. After closing over the ships for exporting, the Gillard government faced increasing heat over its decision to do so, and for a month the issue dominated the headlines.
Gillard has achieve many small victories, but they have not won her any more supporter, due to the carbon pricing scheme, and her asylum seekers policy.
Wayne Swan – Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer
Swan has been at the Prime Minister’s side throughout most major announcements. He presented her first budget, but his fourth, with relative ease, announcing the $2 billion for mental health in Australia.
Kevin Rudd – Minister for Foreign Affairs
Gillard has the unique experience of having a leader she ousted in her Cabinet. The last time this occured was with William McMahon and John Gorton. After losing the leadership ballot, John Gorton was elected Deputy Leader, and was made Defence Minister. This arrangement only lasted three months, after McMahon was forced to sack the former Prime Minister.
In that respect, Gillard and Rudd are doing exceptionally well. In his role as Foreign Affairs Minister, Rudd tends to be out of the country, which can mean a bit of peace for Gillard. However, the issue is when Rudd is in the country, and the ongoing talks of leadership aspirations.
Still, past aside, Rudd has proven to be an excellent choice for Gillard. While she can focus on the domestic issues, she can be assured that Rudd is doing his best on the world stage.
Stephen Smith – Minister for Defence
This last year has not been an overly positive one for the Defence Department. With the ever increasing death toll from Afghanistan, and issues such as the Skype affair, where a cadet broadcast a female cadet and himself having sex to other soldiers, Smith has handled them with a cool attitude. He has ordered an investigation into the attitudes within the military, and is currently undergoing the purchase of new naval technology.
His performance in this role is no doubt the reason why he is being considered a candidate for the leadership.
Nicola Roxon – Minister for Health and Ageing
After a big win against the states over health funding, Roxon continues to impress as a sound performer in the government. Her next big hurdle will be the plain-packaging policy, and to see how well she copes under the pressure of a possible High Court decision against the government again.
Stephen Conroy – Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Conroy has proven to be a qualified salesmen with the NBN, and will continue to do so with the upcoming media inquiry, and the digital television turnover. It should be noted though that his performance has drastically improved under Gillard. As Communications Minister under Rudd, Conroy proved to be inefficient at selling the NBN, however now as it is being rolled out, he will find he’s facing an easier job.
Joe Ludwig - Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
While the heat has been taken off Ludwig over the past couple of months, the live exports fiasco proved to the cabinet how Ludwig performs under pressure. Not very well. The mismanagement, and the constant slip ups says that Ludwig may face the chop at the next reshuffle.
Chris Bowen – Minister for Immigration and Citizenship
The last month has not treated Bowen well. After the Solicitor General’s legal advice proved to be inefficient against the High Court, Bowen has been displayed as incompetent. Gillard may be asking herself whether promoting the former Assistant Treasurer was a good idea, and whether he was ready for it.
Greg Combet – Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
Known as “Mr Fixit”, Combet has a reputation of running departments that require an upheaval. After holding the position since February last year, after the pink batts crisis, Combet has excelled in firstly selling the Citizen’s Assembly followed by the carbon pricing scheme. A strong Parliamentary performer, Combet has easily positioned himself as a possible successor for Gillard.
It’s been a long year in Australian politics, and the bright side is, there’s still two more of them to go.