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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Australia's first bloke - Tim Mathieson

It's such an odd term - first bloke, but it sounds better than first gentleman. As the Prime Minister's de-facto partner, we see him at the door of the plane, standing next to Julia Gillard, waving and smiling at the cameras. I wonder if he knows how much that image rankles.

Last week when Tim said his day begins when he draws the PM's bath, gives her the daily papers and blow-dries her hair, he was accused of being an "old-fashioned wife."  

Yesterday, Ray Hadley, a Sydney broadcaster and Liberal Party supporter, wanted to know more about Tim Mathieson and the perks he is entitled to as First Bloke.  A spokeswoman for the PM's office said "From 2010 to date, Julia Gillard has undertaken 22 overseas trips and was accompanied by Mr Mathieson on 10 of those visits.  He is treated the same as every other spouse of a prime minister."   

When John Howard was in office from 1996 to 2007, he took 77 overseas trips and was accompanied by Mrs Howard on 56 occasions.

Tim was there is New York in September when we won a seat on the UN security council and he became the first man in the 67 year history of the UN, to attend the "first spouses" tea hosted by the wife of the UN General-Secretary.  I wonder if he sees the irony.

Tim Mathieson with his daughter and the wife of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Soon-taek. 

They met in 2004 when hairdresser Mathieson was working at a Melbourne salon.  In 2010 he worked for a real estate agency selling high-rise apartments.

But let's cut to the chase, is he going to ask her to marry him or not? Last year he said they hadn't discussed it.  "I would like to ask her" but added he was in no hurry.  "At the moment I'm really quite happy with our relationship the way it is.  Like Julia I don't think we need to be cemented in any other way.  We are happy the way we are but I would hope if I did ask her, of course, she would say yes."

He hinted that the PM may have some old-fashioned beliefs.  "I don't think she would ever ask me to marry" he said.  "There's no pressure on either of us to do that, but I would want to be the one to do the asking."