- By Uri Friedman
Uri Friedman is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Before joining FP, he reported for the Christian Science Monitor, worked on corporate strategy for Atlantic Media, helped launch the Atlantic Wire, and covered international affairs for the site. A proud native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he studied European history at the University of Pennsylvania and has lived in Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland.
Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is no stranger to controversy — what with all the flying sandwiches she’s dodged and gender battles she’s waged. But apparently she can’t even catch a break after ceding power to Kevin Rudd following a dramatic leadership shakeup within her party this week. On Friday, Madame Tussauds in Sydney planted a wax figure of the toppled premier, resume in hand, in a line at a job center in the city. "Just like the original real-life model, Gillards wax replica appeared stoic in even the most challenging of circumstances," Australia’s Daily Telegraph observed.
But others aren’t amused. The wax museum’s publicity stunt, argues Giles Hardie in the Sydney Morning Herald, disrespects Australia’s first female prime minister. "[S]urely, if you’re the managers of a museum that consistently suggests its sculptures are an honour to those captured in wax, it’s best not to then use the same sculptures as, at best, caricatures in some surreal real-world political cartoon?" he asks.
How do other Australians feel? SMH is running a poll on its site, and 36 percent are calling the stunt "offensive." Then again, another quarter think it’s just billiant. Yet another reminder of Australia’s polarized politics — courtesy of Madame Tussauds.