One of Barack Obama’s former senior advisors has revealed the Obama White House team would often watch Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech whenever they were frustrated with Australia’s then Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Ben Rhodes, Obama’s former deputy national security adviser, spoke to Dan Ilic and Lewis Hobba on the most recent episode of the politics and comedy podcast A Rational Fear.
“I will tell you that whenever we were really annoyed with Tony Abbott, we would watch the video of that speech by Julia Gillard,” he said.
“That speech got watched a lot in the Obama White House, let me just put it that way.”
Rhodes says that the Obama administration found it difficult to work with Abbott, especially on issues like climate change and emissions reduction. He said Obama was frustrated that Abbott was “dragging his feet” on the Paris climate agreement.
“What was frustrating with Abbott, you know, is he was kind of very sure of himself without really knowing what he was talking about,” he said.
Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech that was directed at Tony Abbott way back in 2012, is now recognised in Australia and internationally as the definitive moment of her prime ministership. And it’s managed to resurface in different ways online in recent years.
The speech has appeared in numerous Tik Tok videos, including this one.
The speech was also voted the most unforgettable moment of Australian TV history in a Guardian Australia poll earlier this year despite most Australians probably watching it online.
What’s remarkable about the continuing legacy of the speech is that it wasn’t pre-prepared.
“It wasn’t some thought-through strategy with a wonderfully chiseled speech that we’d been working on for days,” she told the Harvard Business Review in 2019.
“It welled up. I got a blank piece of paper and just scribbled down words to help guide me from one point to another.”
“Looking back, I think it was driven by a deep frustration that after every sexist thing directed at me that I’d bitten my lip on, now I was going to be accused of sexism – the unfairness of that. That anger propelled it.”
Here’s the speech in full: