Prime Minister in Prime Time


(Photo by Chris Samuels)

(Photo by Chris Samuels)
(Photo by Chris Samuels)

Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia, is an inspiration to many. She shattered glass ceilings, fought misogyny and discrimination in government and advocated optimistic views for the future of Australia.
Gillard addressed a group of U students, faculty and community members Wednesday morning at Libby Gardner Hall as a part of the Tanner Humanities lecture series. The title of her lecture was “Australia in the Asian Century.”
Robert Newman, dean of the College of Humanities, said he was grateful to the former prime minister for flying across the world to address the U.
Paedahni Dy, a junior in political science and philosophy, said she was interested in attending the lecture after a conversation she had at a recent internship that opened her mind to politics in Australia.
“The fact that Australia elected their first female prime minister is awesome,” Dy said. “There is a great need for more women in politics, both domestically and internationally.”
As a growing world and economic power, Asia has become a center stage participant in politics affecting all corners of the earth.
“With the rise of Asia, the rise of the middle class has increased dramatically,” Gillard said. “This rise in the middle class has helped facilitate industrialization at warp speed for the Asian countries.”
Gillard used historical comparisons to explain the unprecedented speed at which Asia has industrialized.
“When Great Britain rose to power, it took 70 years for its economy to mature and industrialize,” Gillard said. “Comparatively, it has only taken 25 years for China to grow its economy 20 times over.”
Gillard emphasized the importance of keeping an optimistic outlook amid economic uncertainty. She said things previously viewed as disadvantages are now considered to be great strengths on the economic and political stage.
“Australia no longer can be said to have an old economy,” Gillard said during the lecture. “This is the first time in Australian history that we are the host of the most economically dynamic region in the world. I am a proud Australian in an age of remarkable opportunity.”
She also examined the relationship between Australia and the United States.
“America is our friend,” Gillard said. “We love America as our ally in a world of considerable adversity. However, the relationship has matured throughout the years.”
Gillard said she recognizes the strained economic relations which continue to exist between Asia and the U.S.
“I understand many Americans fear they are no longer going to be the most influential economy in the world,” she said. “The 21st century will not be a system of a polar world that the last century very much was. Soon the gross domestic product of the Asian continent will surpass that of the United States.”
Gillard offered her own advice on the issue and said she thinks the U.S. and Asia should strive to create transpacific partnerships.
She said the future of Australia seems to be in prime time for economic prosperity. However, Gillard noted this is also sure to be a period of economic change and adaptation.
“With the United States as our long-standing ally and China as our biggest economic customer, Australia’s future relies on a country that is not an ally nor a democracy,” she said.
Leo Masic, a junior in urban planning and political science, was impressed by both the quality and content of Gillard’s address.
“The prime minister provided us with a fantastic and pragmatic approach to many of the greatest issues plaguing the world today,” Masic said. “Her words can be used as a template for how to solve issues of immigration, carbon emissions and economic problems.”
Masic was also impressed with the fact that Gillard is the first female prime minister in Australia’s history.
“It is a great step in the right direction,” he said. “If Australia can realize the importance of this and implement it, surely the United States, the great superpower of the world, can do the same.”
[email protected]