Gillard's 'murderous rage' at sexist attacks

Shane Wright Canberra
Former prime minister Julia Gillard, in her first major interview since being deposed.

Former prime minister Julia Gillard has revealed how she called US President Barack Obama "mad" at their first meeting, anointed Tanya Plibersek as Labor's next female leader and explained she vowed not to shed a tear when defeated by Kevin Rudd.

In her first public interview since she was defeated by Mr Rudd in a partyroom ballot on June 26, Ms Gillard told 2600 people at the Sydney Opera House she felt "murderous rage" at some of the sexist and vile depictions of her in the media.

Ms Gillard, in the first of two question and answer sessions with feminist Anne Summers, was treated at times like a rock star with many rounds of applause and a collective "boo" when the name of Education Minister Christopher Pyne was mentioned.

Ms Gillard - who has signed a book contract - has not been interviewed publicly since leaving politics.

She said last night she had decided the best gift she could give the Labor Party through the election campaign was the "gift of silence".

Major issues such as the carbon tax and the elevation of ousted MP Peter Slipper to Speaker of the House were not touched on during the 90-minute discussion. But she did go into some depth about key events such as meeting Mr Obama, who told her that he envied the Australian Parliament's question time.

"To which I said instantaneously, 'Are you mad?' and then the second it was out of my mouth, I went, 'That was a kind of really dumb thing to say to the leader of the Free World on first meeting'," she said.

Ms Gillard said she had kept the notes she wrote for her famous misogyny speech.

She said being lectured to by Tony Abbott about sexism was the driving factor in the address, which, she added, that "once I'd started it just got a life of its own".

The former PM revealed she had seen much of the unseemly depictions of her that erupted on the internet soon after taking the job.

Ms Gillard said Mr Abbott should consider how he would think his daughters should react if they faced sexism daily in the workplace.

"Because, apparently, if she complains, she is playing the victim and playing gender wars, and if she doesn't complain, then she really is a victim," she said.

Ms Gillard, pressed by an 11-year-old audience member about how she faced her final speech as PM, revealed she had one resolve.

"When I was getting myself together to go out and give my final speech as PM, I certainly did say to myself that I wouldn't give those people the satisfaction of seeing me shed a tear," she said.

Ms Gillard would not be drawn on the current leadership ballot between contenders Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese.

However, she said Ms Plibersek, former health minister, was one of the best communicators in the party as she backed her as a future PM.

Ms Gillard revealed that she would take up a senior fellowship with the Brookings Institution responsible for global education issues.

She said she planned to move with partner Tim Mathieson to Adelaide where she will take up an honorary professorial position with the University of Adelaide.