August 01, 2010 | Graham

The Weekly curse

Julia Gillard has had appalling polling figures this last week. Nielsen shows her losing, Galaxy has it 50/50 and only Newspoll has her ahead. All this when a week ago she apparently had a 6 point margin over the opposition. Could the  Weekly photoshoot have anything to do with this?

It could. Gillard’s biggest appeal in our polling is to women because she is a woman. It shows in the quantitative polls in a huge gender gap. But Abbott is winning over women at a faster rate than he is winning over men. Why are women pulling back from Gillard?

Perhaps it is because when seriously thinking about your vote there are more important considerations than gender in voting.

It could also be that Julia has alienated a lot of women by, amongst other things, her Weekly photo shoot.

Cheryl Kernot has nominated for the New South Wales senate this election. This reminded me of her photo shoot for the Weekly where she appeared in red dress with a boa. That’s the moment from which I trace Kernot’s political fall.

This self-indulgent moment sent the message that she had gotten above herself and that it was all about her. It cast her defection from the Australian Democrats to Labor in an entirely different light.

Now Julia has done it.

Piers Akerman totes up the cost of her clobber – $15,185. That’s a lot of money to the average mum when her budget is bursting. It might just make her think again.

Then there is the unfortunate symbolism. Here is Labor airbrushing the Rudd government from its past and now the Weekly is waving its fairy godmother wand over the assassin. Will it all turn to rags in the end?

Exactly how does this photo shoot and the accompanying article fit in with Labor’s campaign message?

The election is meant to be a referendum on sustainability. What does the Weekly article say about this?


One of the absolute rules of campaigning is that you have 4 or so weeks to tell a good story to the electorate. It must be simple, straight and compelling. Everything you do must reinforce that story.

Another absolute rule of campaigning is that it is about the electors, not about you. Your election is in their hands, and you are suitably humble. There is nothing humble about this photoshoot.

I’m tempted to ask who advised Gillard to do this, but the suspicion is starting to dawn on me that she doesn’t need to get advice to make these sorts of basic mistakes. She is quite capable of coming up with them herself.

Perhaps that is what is starting to dawn on electors too. She might survive, but she may need to pack a hairshirt or two in her suitcase to make sure.

Posted by Graham at 10:31 am | Comments (7) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. I think also that women are over the initial wow of a female PM. Many women are realising they might like a female PM but not one like Gillard. Gillard doesn’t share the same aspirations and life experience as most women. Gillard has openly chosen a single life, no family and children in her political presuit, and this doesn’t match what most women want.

    Comment by Joe — August 1, 2010 @ 11:08 am

  2. Just shows us how fickle the electorate are.They cannot define the really important issues so vote on personality rather than substance or policies.

    Labor have to move forward since their past is too horrible to contemplate;however if you don’t confront your serious flaws of the past,there is no way foward,just more spin and bigger disasters.

    Perhaps in harder times the public are digging a bit deeper and don’t like what they see.Both leaders had better cut the deceptions and face the real issues of too much debt and the loss of our national sovereignty.

    We need a Australian Govt owned bank that can create new money to equal our GDP and pop increases.

    Comment by Arjay — August 1, 2010 @ 11:28 am

  3. It is interesting that the photo shoot was organised and run BEFORE the coup. For me it begs the question: how long ahead had the takeover been planned in spite of her consistent denials?
    Or was the photo shoot just coincidental as has been claimed?

    Comment by Susan — August 1, 2010 @ 10:34 pm

  4. Probably was organised before the coup, but if I were the government I would have been doing all I could to keep it out of the Weekly once the election had been called.

    And it still calls Gillard’s judgement into question if it was just a piece of self promotion. This is not the sort of self promotion one wants. Look how much adverse publicity Kate Ellis got for her photo shoot.

    The Kernot shoot I referred to was naked self-promotion too. Actually, I remember Bronwyn Bishop permanently damaging any chances she had with a Weekend Australian Magazine feature which had her kicking a football on the front page (if memory is correct). The problem is probably these sorts of items all together which concentrate on personality rather than performance. We don’t vote for our politicians on the same basis we vote for TV stars at the Logies.

    Comment by Graham — August 1, 2010 @ 11:39 pm

  5. The type of “femininity” portrayed by the photo shoot is beyond the reach of ordinary women – those makeovers are for wealthier women.

    And BTW, what happened to that initiative launched by Sarah Murdoch and Kate Ellis, seems like only yesterday, in which they exhorted women’s magazines to state when photos had been altered to improve the woman’s appearance?

    I object to Julia’s blatant exploitation of her physical appearance – especially when that appearance is doctored – she can’t have it both ways and neither can feminists – if it’s offensive to comment negatively on a woman’s appearance how can it be all right to glam up that same appearance in the hope of winning votes?

    Comment by jennifer wilson — August 2, 2010 @ 1:35 am

  6. Hi Jennifer, Julia claimed that the photo hadn’t been airbrushed. Good make-up and good lighting. Not sure about that, and it sounds like you aren’t either. Does this mean the government is not worried about body image anymore?

    Comment by Graham — August 2, 2010 @ 9:01 am

  7. Sarah Palins fans in America think Tony Abbott is just like her.They can’t wait for him to win.
    Great endorsement for him.

    Comment by maureen — August 4, 2010 @ 4:57 am

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