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The politics of politics – tall poppies and Stepford wives

Maureen Jordan
Thursday, June 24, 2010

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It’s not surprising what’s happened today with what I’ve seen happening to politicians.

A few years ago, we produced a TV series and a glossy magazine promoting the achievements of women in business. We gave it the title Ms Entrepreneur and it attracted great publicity – you can still see the trailer at www.msentrepreneur.com.au.

The support for Ms Entrepreneur came from a variety of sources and those who made the decision to back this initiative financially were all men – except for two strong supporters, Julie Bishop, when she was Minister, and Fran Bailey, when she was Minister for Small Business and Tourism. Julie Bishop supported Fran in her desire to give women entrepreneurs more of a profile.

This is something I often write about – there are so few women out there who we can look to as role models and those who are there are often so reluctant to have stories written about them — and as far as coming on Peter’s TV show is concerned, well, they are as scarce as hen’s teeth. Don’t ask me why or I’ll get side-tracked: too fat, too busy, don’t have anything to say... the excuses go on and on. If you scroll down our website www.switzer.com.au and see all men, don’t think it’s because we want it this way.

With Julie Bishop’s great support, the Federal Office for Women got right behind our idea as well and were great to work with and loved what we did.

The initiative was successful but just before we launched the magazine, there was a change of government. Fortunately, Tanya Plibersek, who replaced Julie Bishop, was happy to participate and I remember going to her offices in Surry Hills to interview her.

She was terrific when I went along with a camera person who took some great photos. I remember the Minister distinctly said that she didn’t want to have a make-up person there, which we offered, and the photo taken was so naturally beautiful. I was struck by how real she seemed to be. She came along to the launch as well and I was equally impressed.

Now, as I said, this was early days of the Federal Labor government.

A few months on, I went to Canberra to talk to the relevant public servant about continuing on with this initiative and was hopeful that we could again get a small amount of government support while we grew the idea with more corporate backing.

I still vividly remember meeting the replacement of the person I’d been dealing with initially – she was what I would call a person who was rapidly losing the colour of life.

I proudly went through what we had done and achieved in terms of raising awareness about women entrepreneurs. The strange look on her face puzzled me but what came next was more perplexing.

In the magazine, we had represented a cross section of women – every shape and colour and they all looked strong and glam in their own way. This, though, is what my public servant friend said she didn’t like. She said that if the Government was to support this project for a short time again she wanted women who were more average looking and who had not quite achieved as much as our ‘stars’ because that would intimidate other women. Holy cow! She kept going along this line but she was rapidly losing me – she just didn’t get it.

When I look for inspiration, I look to people who have achieved more than me – not to people on my level or those who are works in progress. I shelved the project.

Now, back to Plibersek. The other night I was watching TV and, all of a sudden, Mr Rudd is ranting into a microphone, putting in his two pence worth about some piece of irrelevance that sounded like it was written by his spin doctors or those trio of men in their early 30s who were touted as being on Rudd’s inner circle.

And there in the background was ‘noddy’ Tanya Plibersek – looking all glam, now with her make-up and pearls, but looking so ridiculously unreal as she kept nodding her head and mouthing the word ‘yes’ at everything her fearless leader said. Haven’t you changed, I thought, and are you aware of what a phony you look like? She looked like she had been dragged out as the token women behind the man. Pity she didn’t have an inner ear to the PM to tell him how fake he was – and how his team were catching the disease.

Who is putting politicians up to this head-nodding? And the women – the new PM included - are doing it more than the men! Is this some new way of telling us voters that the team is united and backing their leader? You know, politicians really do take us for fools, particularly as we now know in reality there was such division in the camp.

Let’s hope the Gillard gang go back to the future. They need some seriously experienced real people like in days of old who tell them they look damn stupid and to get more grounded, stop the lies, stop the acting and do what they’re paid to do – lead this country.

I’m just one Aussie who’s fed up with fakes and spin doctors – get the public relations people out of Canberra and start dealing honestly with the public who put them there. Let’s hope our first female PM gets real.

Important information:This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published: Thursday, June 24, 2010


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