After a substantial career as a minister in the Beattie government, Anna Bligh served as Queensland Labor premier from 2007 to 2012. She was the first female premier in Australia to lead her party to victory at a state election. These experiences have given her many interesting tales to tell about winning elections, retaining community and party support, as well as pushing through reforms. Bligh’s new memoir, Through the Wall, is partly framed as an inspirational text for future leaders, especially the women who will come after her:
I’ve always been bloody-minded about walls. Rather than being discouraged by them, I’ve felt an urge to break them down or jump right over them. Far from being discouraged by the doubters and the naysayers, I have been spurred on by a fierce desire to prove the bastards wrong.
While her leadership philosophy is clearly explained, Bligh’s writing is most compelling when she tells unpretentious and heartfelt stories about her early life and later career. The book has some affecting moments in which the reader is engaged fully with Bligh’s experiences of being a woman in public life and the attitudes and events which have shaped her career. She describes her difficult relationship with her father with remarkable sensitivity and restraint, and the importance of family to Bligh as an anchor and support is shown in some moving passages about her mother, husband, children, and siblings.