Gillard reveals her inner iron lady, and gets her way
THE life and times of Margaret Thatcher are being revisited with the biopic The Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep, pictured, due to hit Australian movie theatres over the summer holidays.
THE life and times of Margaret Thatcher are being revisited with the biopic The Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep, pictured, due to hit Australian movie theatres over the summer holidays.One of Mrs Thatcher's more quotable offerings contained in promotional material is: "In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman."The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, could well ponder that line as she heads into the final parliamentary week of the year.In the past few weeks she has managed to get the carbon tax passed, promised pay increases for low-paid workers, used Qantas's industrial woes to skewer the opposition and has basked in the attention of the US President, Barack Obama.This week, the government is confident it will get support for its mining tax, which will pay for increases in compulsory superannuation contributions. Leadership talk has died down and no Parliament for the next 2? months means Gillard's job is safe for the immediate future.It's enough to make a prime minister think she might be able to enjoy a glass or two of champagne and even get some time to relax over summer with a couple of crime novels.The last big set piece of the political year is Labor's national conference, a two-yearly event at which members are supposed to get a say on the party's platform and policies.Gillard has already made her position clear on three big areas of reform - exporting uranium to India, having a conscience vote on gay marriage and overhauling the party's structure.On the first two issues she will get her way.How far the party is prepared to reform itself to get rid of some of the rot that has set in is still to be seen.The one issue that continues to dog Gillard is another hangover from Kevin Rudd's prime ministership - asylum seekers.Labor's Left will meet today to discuss their position on all these issues. Many are hopping mad about Gillard's decisions on gay marriage and uranium but know they have little chance of derailing her plans.Today MPs will discuss a proposal by Labor for Refugees that would sink any hopes Gillard has to resurrect the Malaysia asylum-seeker swap plan.The proposal would end all mandatory detention as well as stop the excision of Australian territories from the Migration Act.This is pretty much the party's default policy after Gillard failed to win support for legislation setting up the Malaysian deal.Treatment of asylum seekers remains a significant fault line for the Labor Party, an issue that defines the party's difficulties in reconciling inner-city, more left-leaning constituencies with outer-metropolitan, working family areas.It also is the third issue Gillard promised to fix after she took the leadership from Rudd last year. Members of Labor's Right who are sympathetic to onshore processing are not unheard of, but whether they are prepared to speak out or vote for it is not so apparent.It all means the Saturday morning session of the national conference on December 3, when all these issues will be decided, will be worth attending.