Our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, took time out of her busy schedule to chat candidly to Kate Waterhouse about all things, from the impact of social media to being in the spotlight and even what a prime minister does for kicks.
What do you do in your sparetime? You don't really get spare time when you're the Prime Minister. But Iwatch the footy when I can, I enjoy reading and I love knitting. And there's always Reuben, my dog.
What do you love about Australia? This is the greatest country in the world. The food, the wine, the people, the landscape. We're truly the lucky country.
How do you deal with being in the public eye? Being Prime Minister is the greatest privilege. What the government does and says affects the lives of everyone in the country. There's got to be scrutiny and there are bound to be differences when people hold strong opinions. The point is to keepon doing the right thing for thecountry.
Are there things that you don't expect to get much media coverage, but which end up snowballing? Something stupid will happen; Iwalked upstairs [last week] and Istepped out of my shoe. It was annoying because I was at the Alannah and Madeline Foundation talking about these cyber-safety issues for kids but instead of the shotbeing anything to do with that, it is about me trying to put my shoe back on.
It's the second time you've lost your shoe! I know [laughs], it's actually the third time because in the 2007 campaign my heel got stuck in the gap between the two cement blocks and I stepped out of the shoe ... Ihonestly don't know how you do it.This is me in my relatively modestheels and I would have broken my ankle coming up these stairs in the shoes that you are in, soI'm full of admiration.
Do you feel the youth could get more involved in politics? Across Australia there are great examples of young people being involved. They're active in their communities, campaigning for change and often making the change themselves. And if young people are not joining political parties, that's a challenge for us, not a problem about them or any lack of engagement. Just look at Twitter if you want to see the voices of young people raised on political issues.
Why is social media important to you?Social media is a powerful tool for communicating. It gives an intimacy and an immediacy to what you say that mainstream media finds hard to match. To be able to speak directly, one to one, with people is a great new asset for politicians but more importantly people can speak back. Social media offers a great opportunity for talking about the challenges Australia faces. And I think, in the long run, it will strengthen democracy and accountability.
Are there any downsides to social media? Obviously there are. Cyber-bullying is an example of the powers of new technology being used to pursue kids even in the safety of their own home. There are, though, a lot of good initiatives out there to help children, parents and schools deal with this. Just this week I launched eSmart, an $8million, multi-year partnership between the Telstra Foundation and the Alannah and Madeline Foundation to develop and deliver eSmart libraries across Australia, which will help give local communities the skills they need forsmart, safe and responsible use of technology.
How do you cope with negative tweets? For me, I've always needed to be really clear in my own head about me as a person, as opposed to me as a politician. Obviously, it's one and the same but just be clear in your own head about who really knows you, what you know about yourself, as opposed to the stuff that bounces off the public image ... and not allow yourself to be hostage to their feedback. But it can be easier said than done!
WE WENT TO Rockpool Bar and Grill, Sydney city centre.
WE ATE Wagyu bolognese with hand-cut fettuccine; Cape Grim dry-aged 36-month-old grass-fed fillet, 250g; Alaskan king crab cocktail; Market fish with wood-fired tomato and Forum vinegar sauce.
WE DRANK Sparkling mineral water.
THE PM WORE A navy suit.