Thursday, 13 December 2007

A Thrilling Encounter

This one will probably mean more to the (left voting) Aussie readers, but no doubt the thrill I felt over a particular encounter today will translate.

In the post-Federal election world, the Government department I work for gained the Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, as its Minister.

This is obviously exciting on all sorts of levels - she's our first female Deputy PM, she's fabulous, she's impressive, the list goes on.

Today, we learned that Ms Gillard was going to come to the Department to speak and there was an electric buzz all around the place. I've never seen anything like it. Ministers visit their departments from time to time. It's mostly a bit of a yawn. But no, not today.

My boss, who is a self confessed political groupie, shared my enthusiasm and so when we heard she was doing a walk through on the 5th floor before heading to the big function room to address the masses, we went in search of her, very, very excited. There were only a few of us waiting on the 5th floor. Everyone else obviously headed to the function room.

We waited. And waited. We heard the sniffer dogs had been through. Important looking people with ear pieces and so on were scouting the building.

Oh I need to add, for those outside the country, she's acting PM this week. Only for 60 hours, but she's our PM for a little while and it's great. Yes, it's a crime that having a woman (acting) PM for the first time ever is even noteworthy. But it is, for us.

So anyway, long story short - we waited, with baited breath and rising levels of anticipation, and finally, she came through. We were gathered in a corridor of sorts and she came through, shaking hands and laughing and generally appearing very, very personable. I was going to be happy with just shaking her hand, but oh no, I got more than that!

I introduced myself (as others were doing) and she noted my departmental name badge which I had quickly grabbed before leaving my desk.

She nodded at it and said, 'Do you all wear these badges all the time?'

My reply: No, it's just because you're here.

Hey, it was honest and it got a laugh! I actually couldn't tell you what she said after that because it got a laugh from all around and my ears were ringing with the knowledge I'd just been a little cheeky with the Acting Prime Minister.


She moved on after a few more words with the group and we followed her to the main function room where there was literally no way to get into the room. Crowds were packed out into the corridors and people were pushing to get in. Can you imagine it? Hundreds of marauding Public Servants, desperate to get a glimpse of the woman of the moment. Monumental applause and cheering followed and finally, the crowds had to be silenced so she could speak. And speak she did. She was warm, funny and brief. Punchy even.

More applause. More cheering. And more hand shaking on the way out.

My boss and I were giddy with the thrill of it all afterwards. We had met her and it was wonderful.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. It's a new world we're living in!