Thursday, December 1, 2011

Julia Gillard

Julia Eileen Gillard (born 29 September 1961) is the 27th and current Prime Minister of Australia, in office since June 2010.

Gillard was born in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales and migrated with her family to Adelaide, Australia in 1966, attending Mitcham Demonstration School and Unley High School. In 1982 Gillard moved to Melbourne, Australia. She graduated from the University of Melbourne with Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees in 1986. In 1987, Gillard joined the law firm Slater & Gordon working in industrial law, before entering politics.

Gillard was elected at the 1998 federal election to the House of Representatives seat of Lalor, Victoria, for the Australian Labor Party. Following the 2001 federal election, Gillard was elected to the shadow cabinet with the portfolios of Population and Immigration. The Reconciliation and Indigenous Affairs and the Health portfolios were added in 2003. In December 2006, Kevin Rudd was elected Labor leader and Leader of the Opposition, with Gillard as deputy leader.

Gillard became the Deputy Prime Minister upon Labor's victory in the 2007 federal election, also serving as Minister for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. On 24 June 2010, after Rudd lost the support of his party and stood aside, Gillard became federal leader of the Australian Labor Party and thus the Prime Minister, the first female holder of the office.

The 2010 federal election saw the incumbent Gillard Labor government elected to a second term over the Coalition opposition, led by Tony Abbott, and formed a minority government with support of an Australian Greens MP and three independent MPs. On 24 November 2011, the Coalition's Peter Slipper replaced Labor's Harry Jenkins as Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives, increasing Labor's parliamentary majority from 75-74 to 76-73.

Early life
Gillard was born in 1961 in Barry, Wales. After she suffered from bronchopneumonia as a child, her parents were advised it would aid her recovery if they were to live in a warmer climate. The family migrated to Australia in 1966, settling in Adelaide. Her parents, John and Moira, live in Pasadena, South Australia. She has a sister, Alison, who is three years older.

Gillard's father worked as a psychiatric nurse, while her mother worked at the local Salvation Army nursing home. She and her sister attended Mitcham Demonstration School, and Julia went on to attend Unley High School. She then studied at the University of Adelaide but cut short her courses in 1982 and moved to Melbourne to work with the Australian Union of Students. She graduated from the University of Melbourne with Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees in 1986.

In 1987, Gillard joined the law firm Slater & Gordon at Werribee, Melbourne, working in industrial law. In 1990, at the age of 29, she was admitted as a partner.

Personal life
Gillard's partner since 2006 is Tim Mathieson. She had previous relationships with union officials Michael O'Connor and Bruce Wilson and fellow Federal Labor MP Craig Emerson. She has never married and has no children.

She owns a home in the south-western Melbourne suburb of Altona which she occupied prior to The Lodge and is a public supporter of the Western Bulldogs AFL club.

Gillard was brought up in the Baptist tradition, but is not religious. In a 2010 interview when asked if she believed in God, Gillard stated: "No I don't ... I'm not a religious person ... [I'm] a great respecter of religious beliefs but they're not my beliefs."

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