Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s parents John and Moira in 2010.JOHN Gillard moved his young family halfway around the world in 1966 so his younger daughter, Julia, could enjoy a warmer climate and have some respite from the chronic chest infections that plagued her as a child in Wales.
Only in his wildest dreams could he have imagined that his little girl would grow up to become prime minister.
Mr Gillard, 83, whom the Prime Minister described as her ”inspiration”, died in Adelaide yesterday morning after a long illness. ”I will miss him for the rest of my life,” she said in a statement from Russia, where she was attending the APEC leaders summit.
”He taught me that nothing comes without hard work and demonstrated to me what hard work meant as a shift worker with two jobs.
”He taught me to be passionate about fairness. He taught me to believe in Labor and in trade unionism. But, above all, he taught me to love learning and to understand its power to change lives. He always regretted his family background meant he had not proceeded on to higher education as a young man. He was determined that I had the opportunities he was denied.”
Her father, born into a poor Welsh family, echoed those sentiments in an interview in 2010: ”Because I had been deprived of a proper education, I made a firm affirmation, and Moira [his wife] agreed, that if our children had the academic potential we could bring it to fruition, and we made sure that happened.”
Ms Gillard has often referred to her parents and spoken of their sacrifices.
In return, Mr and Mrs Gillard were vocal supporters of their daughter, often speaking out in her defence and praising her achievements.
During the cliff-hanger 2010 federal election, Mr Gillard said watching his daughter throughout the campaign had been one of the proudest moments of his life.
”I’m proud of my daughter all the time,” he said. ”The English language doesn’t contain enough words – awesome, great, fantastic, tremendous, it is all of those multiplied by 10.”
Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan said: ”Anyone who saw Julia and her dad together recognised a very special, very close and very treasured father-daughter relationship.”
The Opposition Leader Tony Abbott offered his ”sincere condolences” to Ms Gillard.
Ms Gillard yesterday left Vladivostok for Adelaide to join her mother, Moira, and sister, Alison.
Trade Minister Craig Emerson appeared in her stead at the APEC summit.Father and daughter
John on speculation about the 2010 election date:”I wouldn’t push Julia to divulge something like that. Being a loquacious Welshman, if I’m told I’m likely to blab.”
John on Julia’s decision not to have children:”Women are not breeding machines, you know. Women are unique people in their own right. If they want to marry and have children, that’s lovely. If they want to remain single and build a professional life, that’s wonderful.”
John on Julia’s relationship with Tim:”[Marriage] is a decision that two adult people that have a loving relationship will make. I think they can make intelligent decisions without asking their father.”
John on the kind of prime minister Julia would be:”The best there is … so long as she doesn’t turn into Maggie Thatcher.”
John on Julia’s formative years:”She was steeped in political discourse around the table … When Gough came on TV, the shout would come out, ‘Quick, Gough’s on!'”
John on Julia’s motivation:”Undoubtedly she got her love of politics from me.”
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