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PM cosies up to mummy bloggers

10 Dec 2012 THE AGE
BY MICHELLE GRATTAN


PM gears up to use gender issues to maximum advantage in the coming election year.

JULIA Gillard will host about 25 ''mummy'' and other bloggers who write on the internet for women at Kirribilli House, as she gears up to use gender issues to maximum advantage in the coming election year.

These sites reach about 2.5 million people. Similar sites were important in US President Barack Obama's successful appeal to female voters in his re-election campaign this year.

The Monday function follows Ms Gillard's previous morning tea with mummy bloggers in June, and comes after Labor strategists increasingly have seen gender working for Ms Gillard and against Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, especially since the PM's ''misogyny'' speech in October, which received international coverage.

The November Nielsen poll again highlighted that Ms Gillard does much better among women than among men.

Labor's primary vote was 34 per cent, but 36 per cent among women and 31 per cent among men. The PM's approval rating among women was 52 per cent, and only 43 per cent with men. On preferred PM, she was favoured by 54 per cent of women to 47 per cent of men.

Mr Abbott, in contrast, had an approval rating of only 31 per cent among women, compared with 40 per cent among men; just 38 per cent of women, but 45 per cent of men, preferred him as PM.

Next year's campaign will have centre stage several issues with particular resonance among women, including education, childcare, disability insurance and parental leave, on which Mr Abbott is offering a highly generous scheme.

The gender question has also become entwined with the character issue in Labor's attacks on Mr Abbott, so is likely to be more important at this election than in 2010.

Among the news sites represented at the prime ministerial drinks will be Fairfax's EssentialBaby, the largest online parenting site in the country; iVillage, for which Mamamia, created by Mia Freedman has the local licence from the US site; Women's Agenda, created by Crikey journalist Angela Priestley; Kidspot, a News Ltd site that aims to simplify parenting and offer mothers a place to talk to each other; and the Fairfax site Daily Life.

Among others invited are Eden Riley whose blog was named by the Sydney Writers' Centre as Australia's best blog for 2012; the mother of four boys, one with special needs, who writes allconsuming .com.au; Mrs Woog, named in the top 50 Kidspot Australian bloggers for 2011; Nicole Avery, whose site gives tips for organising the chaos of family life; and the writer of My Mummy Daze, who deals with juggling motherhood and a family business.

As the political year winds down, Ms Gillard will go on leave from this weekend, while Mr Abbott will visit London where he will address his old Oxford college, Queen's, on Friday; he is expected to stress the advantage of students doing some studying abroad. Next week he and several other Liberals will attend the Australia-Israel-UK leadership dialogue in London.

He will meet Foreign Secretary William Hague and London lord mayor Boris Johnson.

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