Three Minute Squiz with… Gillian Bradford

Gillian Bradford is an accomplished journalist, manager and all round Canberra Press Gallery legend. And she’s lived through some stuff… History-changing events, hard decisions to make about difficult stories, and managing a team of 50ish journos and camos – it’s no wonder she’s currently on a break and spending time with her son Lachlan. Please welcome Gillian to the Three Minute Squiz.

How and where do you Squiz?
The podcast is the perfect length for school drop off! No long commute (hooray) in Canberra means a bite-size news fix is perfect. I also learnt from listening to you the other morning that backpacks are back in fashion.

You’re on a sabbatical from your great big job as Managing Editor of the ABC bureau in Canberra’s Parliament House. Are you missing the election campaign?
I’m missing it about as much as the measles.

You’ve had longer than we care to mention as a journalist, producer and media boss in federal politics. What’s the biggest change in our politics that you’ve seen?
John Howard becoming Prime Minister in 1996 marked my first year as a working journo and the first campaign I covered was Howard v Beazley in 1998. Remember when politicians stood for something, spent a whole career developing a policy platform, respectfully disagreed with each other and put service before self? Oh, you don’t remember?!? Yeah, it was another time…

What’s the most memorable event from your time in the big house?
Mmm which of the leadership spills do I pick? I suppose I’ll go for the last one. Watching the Liberals tear themselves apart on the way to ditching Malcolm Turnbull was pretty extraordinary. Journalists are still asking them why they did it and there’s still not an answer that makes much sense.

Along with balancing a full-on job, you’re a mum to a very special kid. Tell us about Lachlan.
Ah the light of my life has just turned 8yo. Lachie had a very rough start to life. Out of the blue when he was 11 months old he started having seizures. He went into hospital and drug after drug failed to stop them. After two months of trying everything, the doctors at Sydney Children’s Hospital told us there was no option but to remove ¼ of his brain or he would die. There have been some very rough times, but if Lachie is smiling what do I have to complain about?

What’s the one thing about caring for a child like Lachlan that you’d like people to know?
Stand up for the little guy! I had a bad run over Christmas with intolerant people in shopping centres telling Lachie to be quiet. Lachlan has never spoken a word but he communicates with a range of sounds and one of those is a pretty high pitched squeal (which tells me he’s absolutely delighted to be alive). On the third occasion that someone told him “stop yelling” fortunately a lovely sales assistant at David Jones chased after the lady that shouted at Lachlan from afar. Her act of standing up for him made it easier for me to leave the house the next time.

Name four people – living or dead – you’d kill to sit down to dinner with.
He looks kinda old and grumpy but Chris Uhlmann is also the funniest guy I know, so he’s definitely coming. To give him some material to work with let’s get Donald Trump at the table. I know The Squiz won’t judge me for picking the Queen, what a lady. And Richard Roxburgh, preferably in character as Cleaver.

You’re really a country girl at heart – what are you cooking for when you’re heading out bush?
I bring the country to the city! Sabra Lane (ABC Radio’s AM host) told me the other day the office missed my Anzac slice. They reckon it’s more dense, moist and chewy than the biscuits. I better bake them some for election week. Monte Carlos would be my signature biscuit.

Your favourite book/writer?
Sofie Laguna’s Eye of the Sheep* – for any mum whose kid’s a bit different.

The best piece of advice your mother gave you?
Keep a piece of yourself, for yourself.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Neutrality – seriously Switzerland.

What’s your worst and best habit?
Sulking / Being delighted in the little things.

What would you say is the most currently overlooked news story Australians should know about but don’t?
At the moment the NDIS is just too complicated and it’s creating a lot of stress for the people in the scheme. I’m hoping whoever wins on 18 May that there’s going to be a concerted effort to fix it.

*If you buy this book using this link, The Squiz will get a little commission.

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