SYDNEY (AFP) — Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard will strike a blow against Australia's macho culture Tuesday when she becomes the first "Sheila" to take over the top job.
Gillard will become the country's first woman acting prime minister when Kevin Rudd flies to Bali for a conference on global warming.
Her rise is further proof of the change in Australian politics since Rudd's centre-left Labor Party defeated John Howard's conservative government in elections on November 24.
The 46-year-old former lawyer said she never would have dreamed of leading the country -- even temporarily -- when she was growing up in the South Australian capital Adelaide.
"It would have seemed no more realistic of dreaming to be an astronaut or a movie star," she was quoted saying Monday in the Herald-Sun newspaper.
"It just seemed that becoming prime minister was something other people did, not ordinary people like me."
Gillard said she hoped she would inspire young Australian women to believe anything was possible.
"I think it will be a moment when Australian women in particular sort of pause and stop and look and notice," said Gillard, who holds the industrial relations and education portfolios.
"I really do think that if there's one girl in the country that looks at the TV screen and it makes them think about what's possible for them, that would be a nice feeling."
Gillard's elevation will be short-lived, with Rudd due to return to Australia late Thursday.
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