It was a comedy of manners, it was a comedy of errors, it was a tragedy, it was a bunch of stuff that happened; it was a calvary and a triumph. This is what I most want to tell you: it was worth it. Michael Cooney was Julia Gillard's speechwriter for most of her time in office. He came to the job a true believer in every sense, with years of Labor experience behind him. But this was the prime minister's office. The stakes were high and the game had changed. From mining to the economy to Afghanistan, Cooney wrote the speeches that helped to define the Gillard project: the prime minister's program and vision for the country. He was there at the coalface of decisions on the carbon 'tax' and the budget surplus; in the lead-up to the 'misogyny' speech and the 'we are us' Labor conference speech. He worked to crazy deadlines with perpetually conflicting advice, watching from behind the scenes while the government stumbled and the polls began to tell a grim tale. He cried and laughed and swore as Australia's first female prime minister got through a record number of pieces of legislation in the time she had. This is his story, and hers. Passionate. Argumentative. Funny and honest. The Gillard Project is a fascinating and unique perspective on Australian political culture and its ramifications for us all. 'Of all the Gillard books, Cooney's is far and away the best defence of her legacy ...This is a full-throated love letter to "the Gillard Project" ...and it doesn't hurt that he's funny and smart ...True believers and agnostics alike may fall in love with The Gillard Project.' Canberra Times
Michael Cooney has served as speechwriter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, policy director to federal Labor leaders Kim Beazley and Mark Latham, and was the founding policy director of the progressive think tank Per Capita. He is now executive director of the Chifley Research Centre, the official think tank of the Australian Labor Party.