Like many Australians I have been obsessed with watching the coverage of the Queensland floods. Thank god I make sure there is a television wherever I go. It has been incredibly dramatic, heartbreaking and frightening. I also find it disturbingly intriguing to watch as it is one of those events that are so far out of your realm of possibility that you can’t help but be fascinated by it. I’ve never seen anything like it and possibly (hopefully) never will again. Through all of the mayhem there has been one constant re-assuring voice that has kept me calm and focused and that’s the Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh.
I think Bligh has been OUTSTANDING! She has been so unbelievably calm, so authoritive, so on top of the situation, it has been inspiring to watch. Her recall of facts and figures has been nothing short of phenomenal. Even with her relatively soft-spoken delivery she commands respect and attention. Visibly you can see she is getting tired and it’s taking its toll but you would never tell from her speech or the content. It is obviously devastating for her to see her beloved state going through this natural disaster but she is unflappable in her resolve to see it through and do the best job possible.
I am a New South Welshmen so my knowledge of Queensland politics and Bligh are limited to say the least. From some of the reactions I’ve got on Twitter I gather she is not the most popular of Premiers. I sincerely hope that this flood has demonstrated to her constituents her strength as a Premier and as a person. 911 did wonders for Giuliani’s popularity and I’m hoping for the same for Bligh. I would be a damn shame to lose a politician of this calibre.
To see Bligh front up at every press conference, every two hours, through Queensland’s darkest hour has been the most remarkable thing about the floods, besides the water that is. I once spent the day with Premier Bligh under completely different circumstances. I found her to be completely lovely, and I remember saying at the time how ‘normal’ she was. She was warm and funny, and it was so obvious after a 5-minute chat how completely devoted to Queensland she was. I made jokes about it.
It is a really tough comparison to make under these circumstances, but the contrast with our PM Julia Gillard has been obvious. They’ve done a few press conferences together so it is only natural to make comparisons. Bligh spoke from a series of bullet-points, predominantly off-the-cuff, rattling off facts and figures while delivering heartbreaking news. Gillard appeared to have an autocue (my guess, not fact) and delivered her lines in the typical fashion we’ve come to expect from her since she became PM. There was a lack of warmth and humanity in Gillard that Bligh has shown in bucket loads.
I’m a Labour voter to the core and one of Gillard’s most vocal supporters; I only hope that some of Bligh rubs off on Gillard. I want to see and sense the woman she was before becoming PM. I loved her! The office has hardened Gillard, as you would expect, but I still want to see some personality and candidness from our PM. Especially in our times of need.