Thursday, 24 June 2010 04:04 UK
Australia’s Julia Gillard has become the country’s first female prime minister after Kevin Rudd stood aside from a party ballot.
Mr Rudd took the step in the knowledge he would suffer an embarrassing defeat, correspondents say.
His successor said the government had been losing its way and she promised to make it strong for this year’s general election.
The Labor Party had suffered a sharp drop in support in opinion polls.
So long as she is able to wipe the slate clean of Rudd’s mess, she should make a great leader
David BBC News website user, Melbourne Your views
Ms Gillard, who was deputy prime minister before the challenge to Mr Rudd, stood unopposed at a vote of the Labor Party’s 112 members of parliament at a meeting on Thursday morning.
Finance minister Wayne Swan was elected the new deputy leader, also unopposed.
Ms Gillard was born in Barry Island in Wales, moving to Australia with her family at the age of four.
‘Losing its way’
Emerging from the party vote at Parliament House in Canberra, Ms Gillard told reporters: “I came to the view that a good government was losing its way.
“I believe too I have a responsibility to make sure at the next election that Labor is there at its strongest.”
BBC News, Sydney
The tumble of events has been extraordinarily fast for at the start of this year the polls suggested that Kevin Rudd remained Australia’s most popular prime minister in 30 years – since the days of Bob Hawke.
But the pivotal moment came when he decided to shelve the centrepiece of his environmental strategy, an emissions trading scheme. Many thought it was an act of political cowardice – gutless was the oft-heard word.
Since becoming leader of the Labor party in 2006, he had always been much more popular with the Australian people than with his colleagues in the Labor party.
But after picking a fight with the resources sector over his plans for a super tax on their super profits, the polls slumped again.
The party powerbrokers and factional leaders decided the government would fare better at the forthcoming federal election with Julia Gillard at its head.
On the issue of a planned super tax on mining, which had dogged Mr Rudd, she said she wanted a consensus.
“We need to do more than consult, we need to negotiate… we need to end this uncertainty,” she said.
“Today, I am throwing open the government’s door to the mining industry and in return I ask the mining industry to open its mind.”
She said the government would cancel paid advertising canvassing for the mining tax and in return would ask the mining industry to call off its campaign.
On Mr Rudd, she said: “He was the leader who saw us through the global financial crisis.
“He came within a breath of brokering an international agreement on climate change.”
For his part, Mr Rudd said he would devote himself to helping Labor get re-elected.
“I have given it my absolute all and in that spirit I am proud of the achievements we have delivered to make this country fairer,” he said.
“I am proud of the fact we kept Australia out of the global economic recession.”
Fall from grace
Mr Rudd had called a late-night news conference on Wednesday to announce the ballot after Ms Gillard said she would stand.
Support for Kevin Rudd within his party ebbed away
Mr Rudd, who led Labor to a landslide election victory against the Liberal government in 2007, blamed “a number of factional leaders” within the party for plotting against him.
Announcing he would stand in the leadership ballot, a defiant Mr Rudd had said: “I was elected to do a job. I intend to continue doing that job. I believe there is a strong body of support for the continuation of my leadership.”
But the BBC’s Nick Bryant in Australia said that by Thursday morning Mr Rudd could not even muster enough support to contend the ballot.
His popularity had plummeted following setbacks on his mining tax plans and the shelving of an emissions trading scheme.
Our correspondent adds that Mr Rudd has always been more popular with the public than with his colleagues – he is regarded as intellectually arrogant and aloof.
So when his approval ratings started to slump, his critics within the Labor Party moved against him, Nick Bryant says.
Julia Gillard was born on September 29th, 1961 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julia_Gillard
September 29th, 1961
9 + 29 +1+9+6+1 = 55 = her life lesson = what she is hear to learn = Insight. Clarity. Brilliance. Philosophy.