Yesterday a woman sat accused with a room full of men silently judging her as another man desperately fired questions at her in a vain attempt to make her appear guilty.
This was not Baghdad, Tehran, or Tripoli, this was Market St Sydney, and the event was Tony Abbott’s Trade Union Royal Commission.
The woman in question was of course Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
For Julia Gillard watching Cate Blanchett in the film Elizabeth must almost seem like déjà vu. A world where men are always attacking her for being who she is, for being single, and of course just because she is a woman. Few of them having the guts to recognise her inner strengths, and certainly few having any idea of her resilience.
Yesterday the world once again had a glimpse of that inner strength and the dignity and grace that has been sadly lacking from the Prime Minister’s office since the day she left it.
Yesterday I wrote an article on the legal case surrounding Gillard’s day on the witness stand and the complete lack of evidence against her.
Today I wanted to talk about other aspects of yesterday’s appearance at the Royal Commission.
For starters let’s not forget this is a Former Prime Minister we are talking about. To see someone who held the highest office in the country hauled in before a Royal Commission on the back of evidence that is at best less than flimsy and based on the word of serial liars and right-wing conspiracy nut jobs is an absolute travesty in my humble opinion.
If we hold the Prime Minister’s office in such little regard it to me shows just how far we have sunk as a society and how little respect we have for our own nations dignity.
Only a fool would devote so much time trashing the position they sought to fill. Only a fool would make a mockery of the parliament and drive the public opinion of politicians to such an all-time low when they are a politician seeking to control parliament.
Now that fool sits in the Prime Ministers chair running the parliament he made such a mockery of and wonders why the opinion polls make him look even more foolish.
Yesterday we saw that fool continue to trash his own office with his foolish and desperate attempts to smear those who came before him and they political party they represented via an expensive Royal Commission paid for with the public purse.
Such an open display of political weakness and desperation has rarely been seen in this country.
If the Prime Minister and Attorney General are going to spend vast amounts of taxpayer funds on Royal Commissions set up for political purposes then where do we draw the line?
When Labor wins the next Federal election should they announce a Royal Commission into Industrial Negligence and Responsibility? They could start off with the asbestos industry which continues to kill thousands and shine a light on Julie Bishop’s role in the industry, or perhaps the treatment of the victims advocate Bernie Banton by Tony Abbott. We could also take a peek at the NSW Liberal Governments handing of the hexavalent chromium spill near Newcastle that they decided to keep secret for a few days despite the risk to the community that we may not see the results of for years.
Or maybe we should just see Abbott take the stand at the Royal Commission into Child Abuse and explain his insistence on writing a personal reference praising paedophile priest John Nestor as a “man of integrity” despite the allegations against him.
One of the few women in the hearing room was Lenore Taylor from The Guardian who raised an interesting point that those of us in the media room missed.
In her coverage of the hearing Taylor tells us;
“…after one short tea break, she returned to the room before royal commissioner Dyson Heydon, and for about five minutes stood at the witness stand, looking into the middle distance, alone and almost unnoticed, while the lawyers chatted and onlookers checked their phones.”
The same also occurred after lunch, Julia left standing there, the only one apparently with enough respect for others to actually show up prepared on time.
I would question whether this was part of a tactic to bring Gillard down a few levels. A way of saying that although Gillard may be a former Prime Minister her time is of far less importance than theirs and they are happy to just leave her standing there ignoring her like she is a complete nobody.
This behaviour and the clear tactic of badgering Gillard with trivial questions to intentionally receive a response of “I don’t recall” do little to protect the integrity of the Royal Commission.
Despite all of the attempts to rattle her Julia Gillard remained calm and in control, even showing off the sense of humour that made her so popular with so many on several occasions during her testimony.
If there is one thing that has been made perfectly clear by Julia Gillard’s handling of this matter from day one, whether it be the press conferences, the snide remarks of shock-jocks and right-wing bloggers, or spending the best part of a day in the witness box under oath at a Royal Commission, it is that she is one tough cookie.
She has taken everything that can possibly be thrown at her in her stride and walked away smiling with her dignity intact.
I sense her accusers won’t be able to do the same.