Anna Bligh: bloody legend

It’s hard to find enough superlatives to describe Anna Bligh right now. I want her to be my Mum and my Prime Minister and my best friend. I want to sit in front of my TV and just watch her talk because with every sentence, she manages to strike an extraordinary balance of compassion and calm and heartbreak and resolve.

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Brisbane author Jessica Rudd is currently living in Beijing and was moved to write the following for Mamamia:

By Jessica Rudd
Anna Bligh – legend

Yesterday I went to lunch in Beijing. It felt weird turning up at a restaurant with smiling friends while, a ten-hour flight away, my mum was worried sick, my dad was filling sandbags and my Brizzy mates were making impossible decisions about whether to risk staying home or driving away.
In the restaurant foyer was a wall-mounted television and on it a world news update. The images flicking past were one part familiar, three parts frightening.

I recognised the domes at Eagle Street Pier, the twin peaks of the Story Bridge, the red and yellow seats of Suncorp Stadium. I didn’t recognise the rising water, the rapid river, its detritus and the muck beneath it all.

My hometown looked like it had been photo-shopped and here I was on the other side of the world about to pick up a pair of chopsticks.

Clammy panic set in. I wanted to be home making everyone a cuppa. Even to be back at my laptop listening to every press conference and news update online would have been better than being at that bloody restaurant.

Then I saw Premier Anna Bligh and I just knew it was going to be all right. As soon as she came onscreen my pulse slowed, my breathing steadied and my tummy unknotted.

I think it was in her manner—the no-bull way she looked, that calm stare an impossible cocktail of warm compassion and hardcore determination. And it was in the way she spoke. Her tone was certain and her rhythm even-paced.

Somehow, Anna Bligh manages to respect and reflect Queensland’s somber mood without perpetuating its panic. She’s she’ll-be-right-mate personified.

That’s what being a leader is all about. Places lucky enough to count peace, prosperity and palm trees as normal only truly need leadership during times of crisis. Queensland is one such place—beautiful one day, perfect the next. There’s no room for angst under vast blue skies on the verandah with mango dripping down your arms and Powderfinger on the radio.

But when disaster strikes, as it has with mindboggling force in Queensland, we depend on a good leader to shepherd us through it and boy, do we have that in Anna Bligh. I hope my fellow Queenslanders realise the rest of the country is jealous of us. Even hardened political hack friends of mine down south can’t help but gush about Anna.

It’s hard to imagine it was only last weekend that Premier Bligh woke up to a Newspoll with pretty dire approval ratings and a two-party preferred result putting the LNP at 59 points to the government’s 41. I’d have sobbed into my bircher muesli. But Premier Bligh picked herself up and got on with the job.

Getting on with it is Anna’s trademark. And I, for one, think she deserves a pat or two on the back.

About the author: Jessica Rudd, 26, is a Canberra-born, Brisbane-raised ex-lawyer, ex-campaign worker and ex-PR consultant who lives with her husband in Beijing. She has written the occasional column, a host of legal letters, countless press releases and one novel. She hopes this one won’t be her last.

Oh yes. A pat, a hug and a standing ovation.

Post Script: Jess would never mention it but it’s well worth looking at her father Kevin Rudd in this clip from last night’s ABC1 special (scroll to about the 1 min mark). Just. Brilliant.