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Bligh shines; Gillard fails

January 16, 2011

The disastrous Brisbane floods have shown the true mettle of two Australian leaders.

Anna Bligh, who has been languishing in the polls, has shown astonishing leadership and an authenticity that is resonating with the public. A recent online poll shows the overwhelming support she is enjoying.

The media have been full of praise.

At press conferences Bligh seems to know every tiny town in every valley, knowing which will face the next threat and how high the rivers will rise. She has been prepared to tell the nation to brace for more deaths, yet she has struck the right note of grim determination, tinged with emotion.

”It might be breaking our hearts … but it will not break our will,” she said, holding back tears, on Tuesday.

There has been a steady stream of letters to The Age congratulating Bligh.

Julia Gillard on the other hand is a continuing embarrassment to the nation with one humourist opining that at least Rudd was genuinely insincere!

We are not the only ones who’ve noticed.

Shaun Carney from The Age:

Almost seven months in, Gillard still does not look comfortable as the nation’s political leader, and that discomfort was on display at different times this week. Some of the criticism of Gillard in the past few days has been unwarranted and unfair, but something is still not right with the way she presents herself. In news conferences and interviews she has looked and sounded robotic and rehearsed. Whether she is coached or coaches herself to punch out key words and phrases only Gillard and her staff can say, but all too often this week it looked that way.

In news conferences and interviews she has looked and sounded robotic and rehearsed. Whether she is coached or coaches herself to punch out key words and phrases only Gillard and her staff can say, but all too often this week it looked that way.It is self-administered poison for Gillard to continue to give that impression, because she is the one who, during last year’s election campaign, constructed the framework of ‘’real Julia’’ and ‘’fake Julia’’ while trying to reignite Labor’s faltering election effort. When she looks stage-managed, it hurts her at a time when Labor can’t afford to shed any more support.

The problem is that an extraordinary event requires an extraordinary response, not a business-as-usual delivery. Unfortunately for Gillard, in the public and media eye she suffered in comparison with Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, whose public manner this week was unadorned and spontaneous.

Andrew Bolt from The Herald Sun:

It is puzzling how Gillard has let herself become so stilted, rehearsed, distant and grand as Prime Minister, when she was such an effective communicator before. I can’t believe she’s let her job go to her head, although the transformation is so great that I can not longer rule it out, either.

I suspect she’s actually feeling so vulnerable and maybe even inadequate that she’s now utterly self-conscious and terrified of mistakes, which has her slowing her delivery even more and weighing each word even more guardedly. She sounds so much more unnatural as a result.

Some suggestions. Speak a little faster. Don’t bob the head to emphasise each word – and especially words that actually don’t need emphasising. Don’t enunciate so clearly the names of bills, organisations, government schemes and the like as if sitting an oral exam on technical terminology.  For heaven’s sake, lose that fake smile when making a patronising point. Don’t keep repeating an obviously pre-planned phrase or slogan. Quit with the exaggerated Rudd-style semaphoring with the hands.  When speaking, say things that are concrete, not abstract. Attack less and affirm more. Speak publically more like you speak privately. And dress better, with more “natural” clothing.

One last thing: avoid playing second banana to Bligh at press conferences. Leave them to her.

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