Julia Gillard's parliamentary portrait unveiled to stand out in line of men

Julia Gillard’s portrait unveiled to stand out in line of men

Julie Gillard
It’s taken five years and been put off a number of times, but Australia’s first female prime minister Julia Gillard has had her official portrait unveiled in Canberra today.

And, hanging amongst a long list of portraits depicting men, she wants it to symbolise just how long it took for Australia to get a female PM.

The portrait was shared in front of both Labor and Coalition MPs, with another former prime minister, Tony Abbott, there to witness the new artwork.

Gillard said she had a “few mixed emotions” about getting the portrait done, and that her time in Parliament House had always been about “purpose”.

“It was about policy. It was about getting big things that mattered done for the nation. I was always less attracted with the pomp that goes with being in a place like this, and I put in my mind getting my portrait done in that category of pomp and ceremony, and I wasn’t particularly interested in doing it.”

But she said upon getting some good advice from her staff, she decided to finally go ahead. “Finally, there was a day when Nina, who works in my office, came to me with a very serious expression on her face saying, ‘You know, you ought to get that portrait done before you look a hell of a lot older than you did when you were prime minister’!

“To the younger MPs in the house, you may have heard about staff that give you frank and fearless advice.

“Frank and fearless – it’s not frank and fearless until you’re winded by it. When Nina said that I thought, yes, I really should get this done.”

Gillard added that it’s difficult for portraits to capture a prime minister’s time in the job, especially the “sleepless nights” and overseas trips involved, but pointed to achievements including establishing the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Royal Commission into child sex abuse.

Gillard also said she wanted the portrait to be “visibly different” from those of other prime ministers, given it captures the first woman to serve in the job.

She wants schoolkids to ask why her portrait looks so different from the others, and then realise it’s because she was the first woman. “Then maybe think to themselves, ‘Gee, it’s crazy it took that long for there to be the first woman prime minister’.”

Her portrait will hang next to John Howard’s portrait.

Photo published above shared by Andrew Leigh on Twitter.

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