PM more at ease when she is abroad
Julia Gillard, pictured at the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh last month, is now more relaxed with her part in foreign policy. Photo: Damir Sagolj
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has confessed she now enjoys representing Australia on the world stage, not least because the international relations task of her job achieves good outcomes for the nation.
Early in her prime ministership Ms Gillard, while in Brussels for the Asia-Europe meeting in 2010, told journalists that foreign policy was not her passion and that she would prefer to be watching children learn to read in Australia.
But since then the Prime Minister has grasped the foreign policy role with gusto and has grown increasingly comfortable in the international arena.
During an interview with The Canberra Times, Ms Gillard acknowledged that foreign policy was an important and enjoyable part of her job - and that it wasn't too far detached from children in schools.
''The statement I made (in Brussels) was about what brought me into politics and that's always going to be the same, you know about education and schooling,'' she said.
''Then I think there's a bit of a policy divide in people's minds about policy areas. I've said overseas, and certainly it's true here, that if you want to see the future of a country then go to a classroom.
''So I've now managed to combine foreign policy travel and being in schools.''
Ms Gillard has attended numerous international gatherings since becoming prime minister and has even addressed the United States Congress.
She has also hosted world leaders visiting Australia and chaired international events with increasing ease and authority.
''For me, of course, I've got more familiar with the issues the more I've done it. I've got more familiar with the people the more I've met them,'' she said.
''And at the end of the day world leaders - to use that terminology in inverted commas - getting together is about one person meeting with another person and finding a way to have a discussion, a way to learn about each other and how you see things and a way find solutions to problems.
''I like doing all of those things. I like meeting people, I like understanding who they are, and I like solving problems.''