Australia PM bemoans ‘Americanisation’ of politics

SYDNEY - Prime Minister Julia Gillard has decried the “Americanisation” of political debate in Australia which has taken on an increasingly personal tone.

By (AFP)

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Published: Wed 31 Aug 2011, 10:27 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:42 PM

Recent rallies, predominantly against the Labor government’s proposed tax to combat climate change, have featured coffins, chants of “JuLiar”, and “Ditch the Witch” banners, referring to the country’s first female leader.

Asked at a public forum in Sydney on Tuesday evening if the personal attacks denigrated the office of prime minister, Gillard said she did not like the way protests had become so personal.

“I don’t like it when I get a sense of a kind of Americanisation of our debate,” she said, apparently alluding to similar scenes at right-wing Tea Party rallies in the United States.

“It’s not in us generally to use very harsh words of the nature that we have seen in the public debate.

“It is in us to have a robust public debate.”

Gillard, whose popularity has plunged, conceded she was being judged for reneging on an election promise, having pledged never to introduce a pollution tax before she was voted into power a year ago.

“I did change my mind on this question,” she admitted.

“Different circumstances presented, I did have to make a hard choice.”

Gillard’s government plans to tax carbon pollution at Aus$23 (US$24.74) per tonne to help battle climate change, as it moves towards creating the region’s biggest emissions trading scheme.

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