I would like to congratulate you on your tenure in the Australian Federal Parliament. While I was never a fan of John Howard, I did not find in the ALP a person who could lead the nation. This is why I did not vote primarily for the ALP until 2007. The reason I voted for the ALP was not Kevin Rudd, I did not know much about him, it was because of you. You were fantastic in opposition and displayed a great sense of humour in your attacks on the then government.
I feel that you were given an insurmountable task in leading the ALP with its myriad of party problems that had existed for a long time. The opposition made sure you were blamed for everything, with the media adding to the great unbalance by sprucing party rumours rather than policy wins.
You were questioned about raising women's issues. I can't believe in this day and age, issues that affect 50% of the population can't be raised without getting negative feedback. How dare a woman, even if she is the Prime Minister of a country, raise women's issues? Can we really say that there is no sexism in this country if the Prime Minister of a country can't raise it without being roundly bashed for it?
Women's representation in parliament should be a core issue for all parties. Without this, women's voices are not heard. The UN is encouraging this. So is the World Bank. The World Bank is encouraging labour policies that affect women to be improved. A key policy for your government was paid parental leave, a fantastic achievement.
There are a lot of people who believe women in Australia are empowered and that strong women do not face sexism. They should read about domestic violence statistics as presented in this report by the government. Anyone who thinks strong women do not face violence is mistaken.
Women's issues are continuously looked at as men bashing. Since when was providing a safe and fair society for both men and women seen as "men bashing"? There is a fantastic talk by Jackson Katz where he says that violence against women is a men's issue. Also, other men suffer from it too. Society needs to realise this, not bash the women who raise these issues.
You never served the gender card. You were given it. By women who were proud to finally have a female Prime Minister, by people who expect females to have higher standards than can be expected from men and by those vile bullies who thought they could bring you down by doing what sexists have done to women for centuries, say and draw vile things about them and their gender.
Thanks for being a fabulous female lead, a fantastic feminist and role model, strong and graceful, steely and lady like at the same time.
To the former Prime Minister of Australia, I solute you.
Yours in admiration,