Gladys Berejiklian’s resignation as Premier of New South Wales has divided Australian journalists and media personalities and sent Twitter into overdrive.
Twitter lit up like a Christmas tree after Berejiklian announced her resignation with media personalities and journalists weighing in and in-fighting. Some argued it was a feminist issue, others argued it was fair, and many showed their support for the ex-premier, seemingly dismissing the claims of potential corruption.
While it’s nothing new for people to disagree about politics, Berkiljlian’s resignation hit a chord, and not just the usual suspects commented on her stepping down. Perhaps it’s partly because she’s a woman and now, depressingly, a sea of men will fight to replace Berejiklian. Her resignation hit social media hard, with many expressing their love for her.
My 8yo just asked if boys can be premiers. Thank you so much @GladysB for making that a question a kid in NSW has to ask. You will always be a role model to so many young women, and men (even if they don’t realise it!)
— Daisy Turnbull (@ms_dzt) October 1, 2021
Berejiklian stepped down as Premier last Friday in light of the Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) announcing it was investigating her, over her relationship with ex-MP Daryl Maguire.
Berejiklian, of course, became a daily fixture in NSW residents’ lives, because of the pandemic. Berejiklian gave daily COVID-19 updates at 11 am and arguably became a figure of comfort in uncertain times, constantly promising a return to normalcy.
Naturally, the politician also became the inspiration for endless memes, TikToks and Tweets.
While no politician has survived the pandemic without being criticised, Berejiklian remained relatively well favoured throughout, even Rupert Murdoch seemed to be a fan. At least the coverage by his newspapers would suggest that.
According to news.com.au, data from Newspoll found that in July 2020, 68 per cent of respondents said she did fairly or very well, in her handling of the pandemic. However, by September this year, that percentage had taken a dive with only 56 per cent of respondents happy with her leadership.
Still, it was a shock when she resigned on Friday.
Berejiklian said: “Resigning at this time is against every instinct in my body.
“I love my job, and I love serving the community but I have been given no option following the statement that’s been issued today.”
Arguably, what was more interesting was how her resignation divided the media online. While many kept a neutral approach, others openly shared their disappointment that Berejiklian had been forced to resign, which created a buzz on Twitter.
Everyone from actor Russell Crowe to respected ABC reporter Louise Milligan weighed in.
ICAC gatekeeping and gaslighting the girlboss 😔
— Patrick Lenton (@PatrickLenton) October 1, 2021
It’s surprising when journalists (or news presenters) seem to think an anti-corruption commission is a pesky irritation ruining everything. Or calling for enforcement of parliamentary disclosure rules – preventing corruption/bought favours – is mob rule. @barriecassidy spot on.
— Louise Milligan (@Milliganreports) October 1, 2021
It’s so weird. So much of the coverage is written as if she’s been struck down by an illness rather than named by an anti-corruption agency.
— Jeff Sparrow (@Jeff_Sparrow) October 1, 2021
Personally, I’d like to thank @GladysB for her tireless work through a very difficult time. What a tough job. Thanks for the effort you expended & the stress you endured. You led from the front. With perspective, history will define your tenure kindly.
— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) October 1, 2021
It’s possible to think the allegations and evidence against Gladys Berejiklian is damning while also noting that male politicians are rarely, if ever, held to the same standard, right?
— Tarang / तरंग (@tarang_chawla) October 2, 2021
Secondly, popular politics is facile.
Gladys Berejiklian was immensely likeable with her "shout outs" and funny memes.
But when you love someone blindly, you can't see the full picture.#insiders
— Jason Om (@jason_om) October 2, 2021
Perhaps the best thing would have been for the Premier @GladysB to temporarily step aside and let the evidence before #ICAC fall where it may. Having heard the evidence, the voting public could then decide. Seems some in her own govt didn't want that & were leaking against her. https://t.co/LP1GN4zsz8
— Kate McClymont (@Kate_McClymont) October 4, 2021
For every corrupt politician ICAC has exposed, there’s another innocent victim whose career has been destroyed.
ICAC’s conduct is at times unlawful and vindictive.
You can’t have a corruption watchdog with such extraordinary powers that acts like this. https://t.co/1Rsl9Lqgi4
— Sharri Markson (@SharriMarkson) October 3, 2021
Perhaps, most interestingly, many Twitter users drew a very long bow between Christian Porter still being in parliament, while Berejiklian in her own words, “Given, no option.” A tweet went viral making that comparison.
Gladys Berejiklian has resigned. Christian Porter remains in federal parliament.
I can’t help but feel there’s one standard for male leaders and a separate one for women. #AusPol
— Tarang / तरंग (@tarang_chawla) October 1, 2021
The feminist commenter, Clementine Ford also weighed in on her Instagram, the post received over 100,000 thousand views.
Ford said: “In my view, there are feminist aspects to the issue, and to the resignation, but I don’t feel like saying goodbye to a woman in power, if that woman exercises bad policies is a bad thing.”
It wasn’t just individuals that weighed in, Publication, Mamamia, even expressed sadness that Berejiklian was leaving. On Instagram, Mamamia wrote, “We’ll miss you, Gladys.”
No matter what way you see it, losing a Premier during a time of crisis, isn’t exactly the comforting news Aussies need right now.