One cool customer

Whether she sees the week or month out, I'm pretty sure Julia Gillard isn't a bitch, witch, she-devil or any of the other pejoratives cast her way in her remarkable career.

And let's not kid ourselves it's not remarkable being the first female leader of your country. That's history. Lock it in, Eddie. Julia Gillard will be mentioned in Aussie classrooms for the next two centuries.

Gillard has both manifested and magnified the ambitions of more Australian girls under the age of 16 than every female athlete, actress, model, scientist, journalist and cartoon super hero combined.

Frustratingly, however, it'll only be after Gillard's left office we'll see her described as she is by so many who've met her: Funny. Down to earth. Good company. Smart. Warm.

I've no way of confirming this because Gillard and I have never watched a game of football together, where I hear she's also apt to scream "GO YOU F---ING DOGGIES!" and slosh a Melbourne Bitter on what's his name - the hairdresser's - slacks.

No matter what you think of Gillard, her government and policies (of which there've been many significant achievements), the great political tragedy of the last four years is we don't know our Prime Minister.

Sure we had the embarrassing recalibration of 2010 when Gillard promised us the "real Julia", however, I think this "get to know ya" jaunt has largely been a failure.

I've talked to people as diverse as the CEOs of ad agencies tasked with election campaigns, senior journalists, Gillard's political opponents, TV cameramen and make-up artists - and they've been surprisingly consistent in their appraisal.

Top chick. Really nice. So different to the person you see on TV. A great woman.


The tragedy is we've not been given the opportunity to engage with that great woman, to fall in love with Gillard like many voters did and have with Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, Malcolm Turnbull ... even, gulp, John Howard.

Increasingly that's because our media and pollies are locked in a death roll to "control the narrative", to appease a largely ignorant, fickle voting public, so our leaders play "mistake-free football" and bore the electorate to death with speeches more tightly worded than mobile phone contracts.

Mostly, however, I lay the blame at the feet of Gilllard's media advisors because too many people have told me they're producing shit from clay. They have a self-deprecating, intelligent, cool-headed, historic figure to work with but are giving us a woman too easy to dislike.

In four years of mostly minority government, we've not once seen Gillard lose her cool despite parliamentary pressures and compromises that would have turned John Howard into Groucho Marx and made Tony's Abbott's head explode.

Make all the jokes you want about Gillard's red hair, but she's anything but flammable. She's cooler than the other side of the pillow, which we might have the grace to admit in 10 or 20 years' time.

You can follow Sam on Twitter here. His email address is here.

Please don't take it personally if I do not reply to your email as they come in thick and fast depending on the topic. Please know, I appreciate you taking the time to write and comment and would offer mummy hugs to all.