Julia Gillard spoke at the Byron Bay Writers' Festival on Saturday.
Julia Gillard spoke at the Byron Bay Writers' Festival on Saturday. ALAN PORRITT AAP

OPINION: Why couldn’t Julia be more like that while PM?

I WAS among the throng that packed the tents at the Byron Bay Writers Festival on Saturday to hear former Prime Minister Julie Gillard speak.

I came away from her entertaining chat with two words firmly implanted in my mind - "missed opportunity".

And by that I mean how she was unable to bring the warmth, wit and intelligence she often displayed in forums like the writers festival to her job as PM.

It was like she had a personality transplant the day she became PM and switched off what made her so effective as Education Minister and Deputy Prime Minister when she took the top job.

What befuddled me and many others about Gillard becoming our first female PM was the way she took the top job in the first place and the compromises she had to make in order to win power in a hung parliament.

That's not to say she wasn't a very effective negotiator and her government managed to pass 500-odd bits of legislation during her brief reign.

And we have a lot to be thankful for as she was the architect of the NDIS and set up the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse.

She also gave THAT SPEECH in parliament which made her rightfully famous around the world.

Her lecture to Tony Abbott on sexism was a fine piece of oration and all the better for knowing after Saturday that it was done with little or no preparation.

She amused the writers festival audience with a tale about how she simply asked her staff to dig up Abbott's Top 10 most sexist comments and took it from there.



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