PRIME Minister Julia Gillard has caused a media frenzy of both criticism and support after posing for Australian Women’s Weekly whilst knitting a toy kangaroo for the Royal baby.
During the toughest week of her political life, Julia Gillard was convinced by media advisors to take part in a photo shoot showing her knitting a toy kangaroo for the Royal baby. The photos have caused a frenzy of both criticism and support throughout the Australian media.
It is believed that the Ms Gillard’s chief press officer, John McTernan, was the mastermind behind the PR stunt. He is credited in the magazine for suggesting the idea to the Women’s Weekly editorial team. He called the move a “no brainer” in getting the Australian people to see a softer side to the prime minister.
The story was picked up by most large news organizations, including the ABC, The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and many more. The Australian said Ms Gillard, who is a known republican and feminist, has been ‘knitting’ a confusing message, pushing the gender debate into politics.
Commentators were quick to criticize the Women’s Weekly article, including Senator Fiona Nash who told Fairfax Media’s Breaking Politics program this morning that the images seemed like a stunt, proving the prime minister’s lack of connection with the Australian people. She said that Australians want “the prime minister to be competent in the job she is doing and what do we see? A story about the prime minister knitting.”
Liberal party member, Christopher Pyne, also commented on the images negatively. He said: “What it shows is that we know the Prime Minister is good at spinning a yarn and now we have the photographic proof of it.”
Whilst there was plenty of criticism towards the prime minister’s hobby, many also defended her. The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jacqueline Maley has stood up for Ms Gillard’s pastime, suggesting opposition leader Tony Abbot was able to set up photo-shoots of long bike rides or volunteering, and knitting is “a great pastime for the efficient working woman.”
The story also made international headlines, appearing on the front page of The Guardian’s website. The article commented that Australia’s prime minister is yet to find a way to positively connect with her voters.
According to the prime minister’s press office’s blog, Ms Gillard was interviewed by Associate Editor of Australian Women’s Weekly, Caroline Overington, on topics such as leadership, misogyny, knitting and the Royal family.
The statement said: “not a word of the interview appeared in the published article.”
Ms Gillard believed that pulling out her knitting needles would show a softer side to her personality. She said: “If there is something I hope I have done for the image of women in public life (it) is that we can go into an adversarial environment like parliament and we can dominate it and make it our own, and conquer it. I don’t shy away from that. But that’s not all of me.”
What do you think about the contentious photo shoot?