Local ALP backs new PM's vision

HER ‘appeal as a politician of the people' was Julia Gillard's greatest praise among Labor Party stalwarts in Coffs Harbour yesterday.

Sworn into power as the nation's first female Prime Minister, local ALP supporters shared their impressions of Ms Gillard who last visited the region in February.

In her acceptance speech before Parliament, Ms Gillard echoed the need for politicians to listen to the people to achieve their best as leaders.

“It is my intention to lead a Government that is focused each and every day on meeting the needs of working families around the country,” Ms Gillard said.

“We will get back on track,” she vowed.

President of the Coffs Harbour Australian Labor Party branch Steve Pratt said he had the utmost respect for Prime Minister Gillard based on his dealings with her during local visits.

“I recall when she met my children, she knelt down to talk to them, respectfully looking them in the eye and with her full attention asking questions of them talking to the kids in the same way she addressed adults,” Mr Pratt said.

Local ALP leaders learned of the leadership challenge at 10.30pm on Wednesday night, from a Twitter message sent by Canberra-based parliamentary journalists.

“Yes, Twitter is very much the medium of politics as we have seen in the turn of events,” said Mr Pratt. “Within minutes of a likely challenge, people right across the nation knew, amazing stuff really.”

Mr Pratt said he felt confident under Julia Gillard's leadership that local Labor Party candidate Paul Sekfy would poll well in the seat of Cowper at the next election.

“As a Labor Party supporter over many years, I am thrilled to see Julia become Prime Minister and earn her place in history as the nation's first female party leader,” he said.

“I just wish more of the focus had been on what Kevin Rudd has achieved instead of his popularity, or lack of, and his fall in the polls.

“As a Prime Minister he achieved more in his three and a half years than what he has largely been given credit for by the public.

“Amid Kevin's political overthrow, the public was told he was an autocratic leader, accused of not listening to his Cabinet, I can only say if that's true I can't see Julia Gillard serving as Prime Minister in that way.

“Under her leadership I do believe Labor is in a strong position to retain government at the next election,” he added.

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