Today I watched two women in the parliament. Julie Bishop and Julia Gillard.
I saw Julie Bishop, a proud and well informed lady rise to her feet. I saw on her face the sort of expression reserved for someone confident in their purpose and resolute in achieving it.
Julie Bishop is a lawyer. She was the Managing Partner of the Western Australia office of Clayton Utz, a large and highly regarded commercial law firm.In 1996 she attended the Harvard Business School in Boston and has qualifications from Harvard in management.
Julie Bishop has been was Chair of the Town Planning Appeal Tribunal of Western Australia, a Senate Member of Murdoch University, an independent director of the Special Broadcasting Service and like me she is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.
Julie Bishop struck me today as a lawyer who holds the institution of the practice of the law in very high regard. I am told that she has made extensive enquiries into The AWU Scandal so as fully to acquaint herself with the documents, the publicly available statements of all concerned and the extent of judicial and police enquiries into the matter.
I watched Julie Bishop while she tried to hold the gaze of the erstwhile lawyer Julia Gillard. It struck me that Bishop looked like a person who holds the law and the special privileges and responsibilities accorded to its officers of the court in very high regard and that she has a particular disdain for lawyers who bring its institutions into disrepute.
It's cheap and transparent to confect moral outrage in the parliament. Calling a father of 3 girls and loving husband a misogynist is probably the best recent example. But there was nothing confected, nothing apparently rehearsed or spun about Julie Bishop's heart-felt communication with Julia Gillard and with you and me in the people's house today.
Julie Bishop showed how she felt about a lawyer who abuses her position. That lapsed lawyer is also the Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Julie Bishop asked a question that was pointed, reasonable and well supported by documents. A question that if answered fully by the ex-lawyer Julia Gillard would help the Australian Workers' Union to clear up a terrible fraud perpetrated on it and construction companies.
As the Prime Minister rose to her feet I saw a person with something to hide. She expressed no inkling of even a slight motivation to help the community clear up the mystery of the $500,000 her boyfriend took from accounts that passed themselves off as being part of the Australian Workers' Union. I saw someone who was guarded, and disingenuous.
The Prime Minister did not answer Julie Bishop's question. Incredibly, almost beyond belief the Prime Minister said words to the effect that "Just admit it, Tony Abbott has put you up to this as part of his misogynist attack on women." I didn't note the quote precisely, but that's the gist of what I took away.
Julie Bishop was masterful in response. Strong, independent, she wholly owned the preparation and delivery for the question she asked and she really put the other person Julia Gillard in her place.
"I ask my own questions, thank you." As a former Managing Partner of a large law firm in Western Australia, as a professional manager who has no doubt had to deal with improper actions of employees, as an accomplished lady who has built an outstanding career, I think Julie Bishop was entitled to take some satisfaction from that moment.
Julia Gillard is giving us an insight into the real Julia. I saw it in the parliament today. The Julia Gillard who so disregarded her duties to her partners, the law, her client and the obligations to the court as a lawyer as to be capable of the deceit and actions that are disclosed in the documents, the records of interview, the statements of people who were there, the bank accounts, the staged "final" press conference, the sackings of journalists who've pursued the story and her abject failure to directly answer questions on the issue other than to say "I did nothing wrong".
I am pleased that a lady of the calibre and ability of Julie Bishop has chosen to help us better to understand the real Julia.