Australian PM survives challenge to leadership

Australian PM survives challenge to leadership

Australia’s first woman Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Thursday survived a leadership challenge within her party emerging victorious in a vote after her rival Kevin Rudd made a last-minute decision not to run against her.

Gillard, 51, was elected unopposed at a meeting of the Labor Caucus following her dramatic announcement to call a leadership ballot as internal unrest mounted in the party ahead of a general election in September.

Gillard threw her job open for contest after senior cabinet minister Simon Crean asked to step aside and clear the way for former leader Rudd to head the minority government.
Rudd, who was ruthlessly ousted by Gillard in mid-2010, indicated he did not have the numbers to topple the premier, after being roundly beaten when he resigned as foreign minister and launched a previous challenge in February 2012.

“I’m not prepared to dishonour my word... others take such commitments lightly, I do not,” he said just minutes before Labor parliamentarians were due to vote. “I have also said that the only circumstances under which I would consider a return to leadership would be if there was an overwhelming majority of the parliamentary party requesting such a return, drafting me to return and the position was vacant,” said Rudd.

“I am here to inform you that those circumstances do not exist,” he said. With Rudd out of the running, the ballot went ahead with Gillard retaining the leadership unopposed.
“Today the leadership of our political party has been settled and has been settled in the most conclusive fashion possible,” she said.

“The whole business is completely at an end. It has ended now. The government has a plan for the nation’s future and we plan to get on with it,” Gillard said.
She said her position as Labor leader has been emphatically confirmed after Rudd failed to nominate against her.