Australia's new PM pays tribute to her 'great education'

Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Thursday, 24 June 2010

History has been created at the University of Adelaide today with former law/arts student Julia Gillard becoming Australia's first female Prime Minister.

The Hon. Julia Gillard enrolled at the University of Adelaide in 1979, studying law and arts and taking a prominent role in student politics on campus. She was President of the Adelaide University Union in 1981-82 before moving to Victoria where she completed her tertiary education at the University of Melbourne.

A fellow student unionist on campus at the time, Carol Johnson, (now Professor of Politics at the University of Adelaide) remembers Ms Gillard as "immensely capable" in her student years.

"I'm not at all surprised that she has risen through the ranks and become our first female Prime Minister. She is highly articulate, has an incredibly sharp intellect and can identify with ordinary Australians."

Acting Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Fred McDougall said Ms Gillard was the first alumnus of the University of Adelaide to hold the country's highest office.

"This is an historic day for Australia and also for the University. We extend our congratulations to Ms Gillard, who today credited her outstanding education for her career in politics," Professor McDougall said.

The University now counts four members of the Federal Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet among its alumni.

They also include:

  • Senator Penny Wong, Federal Labor Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water (Bachelor of Laws [Honours] and Arts, 1993);
  • Deputy Federal Opposition Leader the Hon. Julie Bishop (Bachelor of Laws, 1979);
  • The Hon. Christopher Pyne, Shadow Minister for Education, Apprenticeships and Training (Bachelor of Laws 1988)

"Former University of Adelaide students can be found throughout parliament and across the major political parties in Australia," Professor McDougall said.

"We congratulate all Adelaide alumni - both in government and opposition - who have taken up the challenge of helping to run this country, which is one of the greatest contributions anyone can make," he said.


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