Australian PM brought to tears in parliament 15 мая 2013, 18:39
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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. ©REUTERS/Andrew Taylor
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's tough exterior cracked Wednesday as she choked back tears while introducing a bill into parliament on disability reforms, AFP reports.
The country's first female leader, seen as a hard-talking survivor in male-dominated politics, spoke in a quivering voice of people with disabilities she had recently met.
She said a proposed national disability insurance scheme would let people like 17-year-old Sandy from Brisbane realise their dreams for life.
"When I met this young man he handed me a card signed by him and his mates to say thanks for what we are doing for people with disability," an emotional Gillard said.
"Over the past six years, the idea of a national disability insurance scheme has found a place in our nation's heart. In March, we gave it a place in our nation's laws.
"Today we inscribe it in our nation's finances," she added before being comforted by Disability Reform Minister Jenny Macklin.
When fully operational, the scheme is expected to cover 410,000 Australians with disabilities and cost upwards of Aus$15 billion (US$15 billion) a year to run, providing extra personal care and physical therapy.
Gillard, who is facing defeat in national elections due in September, has weathered criticism over everything from her Australian drawl to her penchant for white jackets during her time as prime minister.
She has previously credited her formidable inner strength and calm as among her chief attributes, with Treasurer Wayne Swan saying: "She's as tough as they come."
That hard exterior was famously on show in a speech in October 2012 when she ripped into conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott in an extraordinary outburst in which she accused him of being a misogynist.