By Staff and AAP
The Herald Sun
June 24, 2010
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JOHN Brumby says Julia Gillard will be a “fantastic” PM, as powerbrokers and commentators reacted to her stunning rise to the top.
The Victorian Premier said Gillard had a “lovely way” with people and described the leadership upheaval as a “history-making 24 hours”.
Gillard was previously Mr Brumby’s former chief-of-staff when he was Victorian Opposition Leader from 1996 to 1998.
While Brumby has had a rocky relationship with the outgoing PM, he welcomed her appointment to Australia’s top political post.
“The reality now is we have a new prime minister and she’s someone who I believe will make a fantastic prime minister,” he said.
“I know her well, she’s a person of extraordinary ability, of great intellect, of great compassion, she’s got a wonderful way with people.
“She’s broadened out considerably in the 10 years she’s had in federal parliament and she has a lovely way with people right across Australia.
“She’s got a bit on her plate, but I look forward to working with her in taking on some of the big issues that face victoria and face Australia.”
‘Great day for women’
Victoria’s first female premier declared Gillard’s ascent to PM as a historic moment for women in Australia.
Joan Kirner, who served as state premier from 1990-1992, said it was also fitting recognition of the work done to get more females into politics.
Ms Kirner joined a chorus of support from prominent women around Australia.
“It’s so inspirational that somebody with a working class background can do it,” Ms Kirner said.
Mr Kirner also credited Rudd for his swift rise to power, defeating work choices and particularly his history making step of making a formal apology to the Aboriginals.
Melbourne University academic Lauren Rosewarne also said it was a fantastic day for women, but said society still had a long way to go.
“The fact that we have to talk about her being the first female PM reminds us how far we have left to come.”
Olympic medallist Raelene Boyle threw her support behind the new prime minister.
“What a great honour for her,” Boyle said. “I just hope she will lead the country in the right direction.
“I think it’s appropriate that the right person is in place whether that’s a man or a woman.”
Gillard must keep her door open
Politicians were quick to give the new PM advice on her task.
South Australian senator Nick Xenophon told Sky News he expected Ms Gillard to be more available than Mr Rudd.
“I only had two meetings with the Prime Minister in nearly three years since I’ve been elected,” he said.
“They were rare pleasures and they were good meetings.
Family First senator Steve Fielding agreed Ms Gillard would be more approachable and claimed it was Mr Rudd’s poor consultation that lost the leadership.
“It was a leadership style that was unconsultative, and clearly, it wasn’t going to last and it has brought the prime minister down,” Senator Fielding told Sky News.
“His office wouldn’t return phone calls.
“I think if most Australians knew that, they would be shocked … it’s pretty bad.
“Ms Gillard was more consultative,” Senator Fielding said.
Go to the polls says Beattie
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said Gillard should go to the polls to capitalise on her honeymoon period.
Before the leadership crisis was even settled, Mr Beattie endorsed Ms Gillard and said Mr Rudd’s poor sales job on his mining tax had cost Labor dearly.
“This tax was badly communicated, it wasn’t consulted (on) enough, and as a result there was a huge problem for the party in states like Western Australia and Queensland,” he told the ABC.
He said Ms Gillard would have to turn her mind to a reassessment of the tax and tidying up some “toxic” policies and “then go to the election in the honeymoon period”.
“My view is that had there not been a change Labor would not have won the election.”
Time for change
Nurses say Ms Gillard’s priorities should be health reform and industrial relations.
World Vision chief Tim Costello said he was sad to see Kevin Rudd go, given his commitment to aid funding.
“He was a man of great vision when it came to aid and the world’s poor,” he told Sky News.
Politics was a “brutal” business, but Mr Costello said it was fantastic to see “a woman ascend to the throne”.
He urged Ms Gillard to take up the climate change cause as one of her key priorities in government.
The powerful right-wing lobby group Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) congratulated Ms Gillard.
It said that it expected Labor to confirm its concern for the poor and the disadvantaged, and values that proved attractive to many Christians under Mr Rudd.
Independent MP Rob Oakeshott said Mr Rudd had been a victim of the debate on climate change.
“The climate change storm has claimed its second parliamentary leader,” he said, referring to the defeat of former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull in December.
Rudd’s exit was ‘dignified’
Outgoing NSW Labor MP Belinda Neal told Sky News that said Mr Rudd “very bravely” stood down for Ms Gillard, and that she felt “a mixture of pride and excitement” after the decision.
“I’m so proud of Kevin that he was able to stand down with such dignity and that ultimately he took the decision that was in the interests of … not necessarily himself personally.
“Julia is committed to … communicate strongly with the Australian community, and I think she will do that.”