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T-shirt featuring caricatures of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott #2012-0028

Large unisex white cotton t-shirt featuring a flattering caricature of Julia Gillard on the front with inscription ‘GO JULIA! 2010’ and an unflattering caricature of Tony Abbott on the back with ‘DON’T TRUST MR RABBIT’.

History

Julia Eileen Gillard (b. 1961) was the first female to become Prime Minister of Australia. Welsh born and raised in Adelaide, she was elected to Parliament in 1998 and was a shadow minister until 2007; from 2006 she was Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party. In 2007 she became Australia’s first female Deputy Prime Minister. On 24 June 2010, Gillard replaced Rudd as Prime Minister following a leadership spill which Rudd did not contest. On 21 August a general election was held in which Labor and the coalition led by Tony Abbott won 72 seats each in the House of Representatives, with the balance of power held by one Green and several independent members.

Anthony John Abbott (b. 1957) became Leader of the federal Liberal Party in December 2009 after defeating Malcolm Turnbull in a leadership ballot. Abbott had been a minister in the Howard coalition government from 1998 to 2007, notably Minister for Health. Abbott, having been raised as a Catholic and initially training as a priest, was noted for his conservatism and somewhat adversarial parliamentary style.

The 2010 election saw the first hung federal parliament in Australia for 70 years. It was also the first federal election since 1993 where neither leader had experience with leading their party to an election. The election was fought in the shadow of Rudd’s replacement by Gillard which was referred to by some opponents as ‘assassination’. The coalition campaigned heavily on immigration and climate change, pledging to halt unauthorised arrivals and act on climate change without introducing a ‘carbon tax’. Labor campaigned with the slogan ’Moving Forward’ and proposed its own climate change solutions, attacking Abbott for his conservative views.

The t-shirt’s reference to Abbott as ‘Mr Rabbit’ refers to Gillard’s unique pronunciation of ‘Mr Abbott’; the nickname was adopted by Gillard’s supporters to deride her opponent.

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Statement of values

This t-shirt is a significant contemporary example of the use of clothing to deliver a political message. The t-shirt is pro Gillard and depicts the strong support for her at the beginning of her term of office from some sections of the community. It also has social significance as it was specially produced for a wedding; the condition of attendance being that all wedding guests wear one. This connects the t-shirt to personal politics – passionate support of one party or politician is a theme in all democratic cultures. The shirt shows the level of support that one party or public figure can engender and the lengths to which some will go to show that support.

  • T-shirt featuring caricatures of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott - Front (detail)T-shirt featuring caricatures of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott - Front (detail) —
  • T-shirt featuring caricatures of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott - FrontT-shirt featuring caricatures of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott - Front —
  • T-shirt featuring caricatures of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott - Reverse (detail)T-shirt featuring caricatures of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott - Reverse (detail) —
  • T-shirt featuring caricatures of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott - ReverseT-shirt featuring caricatures of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott - Reverse —

Details

Width 855mm
Height 726mm
Medium Cotton
Creator’s name Unknown
Date created c.2010