It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man ousted as Prime Minister, must be in want of a book deal to spill his tea. Every guy booted from the top job seems to think it is their duty to unload all their thoughts in a memoir. And this time around that grand gesture belongs to one Malcolm Turnbull.
Even before his book hits shelves, we know that Malc doesn’t hold back in his rather colourful takes on former colleagues and foes. He unloads on those who orchestrated his dismissal, with some special mentions for Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison, as well as detailing the toll it took on his mental health. Turnbull even declares who truly deserved to win the 2019 election – an election he wasn’t even a part of.
It’s not all that surprising, really. There’s a common theme here.
Every time a bloke gets evicted from The Lodge he promises to behave himself, carry on with an air of grace, and not go after the party that got him elected in the first place. And then it all falls apart. Pretty damn quick.
Remember when former-PM Tony Abbott famously said:
“There will be no wrecking, no undermining, and no sniping.”
That lasted about two seconds.
It’s not just limited to the Liberal Party. Former Labor leader Kevin Rudd wrote not one, but two memoirs about his political career. I mean, just have a look at the synopsis:
“The betrayal of June 2010 is the most significant Australian political event of the century.”
He is, of course, talking about Julia Gillard. And she, friends, is the real winner out of every one of these salty, salty books from both sides of politics.
Because when Julia Gillard was ousted as Prime Minister, by Kevin Rudd & Co no less, she left the politics to Parliament. She went off and poured her energy into leadership opportunities for other women, mental health support for all Australians, and becoming BFFs with Rihanna in the fight for education for girls around the world.
Now I am by no means saying Gillard was a perfect Prime Minister – no one ever is. Personally, her stance on marriage equality still disappoints me. But to walk out of the Prime Minister’s office and not look back (publicly) in anger takes guts and a whole lot of grace.
Women will always be held to a higher standard. That, sadly, is the reality of the patriarchy we live in. I remember watching Gillard’s speech after the party room vote that ended her career and thinking: how long will it take for Australians to remember her fondly? Will it ever happen?
For survivors of child sexual abuse, that moment came in October 2018 when the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse resulted in a national apology in Parliament House. Gillard was hailed a hero, because ordering that Royal Commission, which went on for five years in horrific detail, was her final act as Prime Minister. That is how to leave a legacy.
Just because a Prime Minister has left office doesn’t mean they’re done for. Australia has six living former-PMs now, and they all have incredibly powerful connections and opportunities to do some good in this world. Why waste time casting shade on the past?