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Gillard: I was target of sexism

Australia's first woman prime minister, who was dumped by her own party ahead of it losing the general election, says she was the target of "aggressive sexism" during three years in power.

Julia Gillard made the comments in her first interview since she was deposed in a ballot of her centre-left Labor Party colleagues in June.

She was replaced by Kevin Rudd, a prime minister she had replaced in a similar leadership showdown three years earlier in the face of poor opinion polling. Mr Rudd led his party to a crushing election defeat on September 7.

Ms Gillard told an audience at the Sydney Opera House that she reacted with "murderous rage" to the sexist attacks on her in social media and elsewhere.


She was called "witch" and "bitch" on protesters' banners, while a popular Sydney radio broadcaster said she should be dumped at sea in a sack.

"I was surprised by it. I had issues related to my gender before I became prime minister," she said, mentioning an opposition senator condemning her as unfit to lead because of her decision not to have children.

"There was this underside of ... really violent, ugly sexism that came forward, and I think it finds easier expression because of the social media, but I think it would have been there anyway," she said.


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