16

Aug 19

Julia Gillard takes the stage Newcastle

Julia Gillard takes the stage Newcastle Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland
Nanjing Night Net

Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

TweetFacebookFORMER Prime Minister Julia Gillard has admitted she ‘‘wrestled’’ with the decision to call a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2012, saying she spent a weekend weighing up how much more pain the inquiry would cause victims.

In Newcastle to promote her new autobiography ‘‘My Story’’, Ms Gillard addressed about 900 people at a packed Newcastle City Hall on Monday night.

In a wide-ranging interview with Newcastle Herald journalist Rosemarie Milsom, Ms Gillard discussed her term as Australia’s first female prime minister, her relationship with Kevin Rudd, issues of misogyny and gender bias in Australian politics and public life and the night of her final address.

Ms Gillard also gave an insight into her thinking in 2012, when she announced the creation of a national royal commission into institutional responses to instances of child sexual abuse.

The move came following the Herald’s ‘‘Shine the Light’’ campaign, spearheaded by award-winning journalist Joanne McCarthy.

‘‘I knew through [then Newcastle MP] Sharon [Grierson] and I also knew through [then Charlton MP] Greg Combet, just how much focus there was in the local community and through the Herald, through Joanne’s writing on child sexual abuse and how it was tearing at people,’’ Ms Gillard said.

‘‘So I had that in my mind and then the groundswell was coming up, the proper inquiries, the NSW government’s response, and obviously there were separate issues around that, and it all sort of built to what we should do nationally.

‘‘I say in the book, I wrestled with this over a few days, particularly one weekend I really wrestled with the decision.

‘‘I couldn’t see a way forward that was going to be without further pain and that was what made the decision so difficult.

‘‘If you didn’t have a royal commission then it would be slamming a door shut in people’s face again and for so many people all they had ever experienced in their life when they were trying to tell their story was doors being slammed in their face.

“If you did have a royal commission then people would end up re-living dreadful experiences, some of them in quiet formalised court style proceedings and that has a set and real pain associated with it.

“I just thought it through and obviously came down on the side that the best way forward, though it would be very painful to some individuals, was to have the royal commission, give people an opportunity to tell their stories, try and manage that royal commission so that it could take evidence in a whole different series of ways so that not everybody would have to be in a witness box with very direct, adversarial questions being put to them.

“So that was an important decision for me and an important decision for us as a government and whilst it is inevitably going to take a lot of time, I think it will be viewed as something that does change the nation and change the attitude towards how we keep children safe.’’

Throughout the 90 minute chat with Milsom and the audience, Ms Gillard came across as warm and personable, honest and funny. She had those present hanging on her every word and received a standing ovation at the end.

She was even asked by one audience member if she would consider running for Newcastle Lord Mayor at the November election, but respectfully declined. Another young girl asked if she would have to move to Canberra if she too wanted to be PM one day. Ms Gillard, who had a measured response for everything, suggested the girl should start lobbying council to get a prime minister’s residence built in the city, so she could ‘‘govern the country from home’’.