In June 2010, the Land Down Under came to be ruled by a woman Prime Minister who held her own against missing shoes, misogyny and wayward Vegemite sandwiches. We here at KazzaDrask Media picked up a story labeled Shoe-Gate in early 2012, and ran a blog called Julia Gillard’s Shoe ever since.
On June 26, 2013, however, Julia Gillard’s run as Australia’s Prime Minister came to an abrupt end when the man she originally ousted in a “night of long knives” coup turned the tables on her in “an “unprecedented day of political bloodletting.” Gillard, who was facing a strong challenge from the right, called the election between herself and Labor Party rival Kevin Rudd and drew a line in the sand. “The loser,” she said, would “retire from parliament.”
In a stinging 57-45 party vote, Gillard was gone. And so goes the blog devoted not only to her fight to recover a lost shoe but her gritty determination to stay in power over the years in a country with a “controversy obsession” and national pastime called “Tall Poppy Syndrome”, in which anyone who achieves success in this country of 23 million must be brought down.
I became intrigued with Australian politics on a month-long trip to Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney in August 2010. I had recently done a fair amount of writing about the change in American politics during the 2008 election and the role social media played. During the 2010 Australian federal election between Gillard and long-time Labor nemesis Tony Abbott, I witnessed all of the same dynamics of the endless American Presidential election cycle being played out in just a few short weeks. In 2013, “The Daily Show” has done an excellent spoof on this phenomenon.
Being married to an Australian, having a number of awesome Aussie mates and working with countless Australians navigating Silicon Valley as part of the ANZA Technology Network, I have been pretty immersed in this country’s culture for more than 10 years. My love, fascination and frustration with this place is second only to my love, fascination and frustration with my own country.
But Julia Gillard has better taste in shoes than Barack Obama.
Inspired by the former PM’s commitment to retire from parliament if she lost her last election, KazzaDrask Media will retire the Julia Gillard’s Shoe blog from the Internet.
Thanks to my wife for reading every post, and @redfoxash and @Elliottstephen — my two reliable sources Down Under for the breaking news tweets that often came in the middle of the night. Grrrrrrrr. Also thanks to Holly for the occasional video and other various links, and even some original newspaper clippings!
To read a little bit more about the impact Australia’s first woman Prime Minister had on the world vs. the view of her at home, read this CNN post: “Julia Gillard: Admired Abroad, Vilified at Home”.