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Archive for Thursday, June 24, 2010

First female PM takes office in Australia

June 24, 2010

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— A sudden revolt within Australia’s ruling party gave the country its first woman prime minister, who promised today to safeguard her government’s reforms in education, health and industrial law.

Julia Gillard had been deputy to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd since their Labor Party swept to power in a landslide election victory in 2007.

In a sudden move that took many government lawmakers by surprise, she challenged Rudd late Wednesday to hold a leadership ballot only month out from an election expected this year.

Rudd acknowledged that the party’s factional power brokers had lost faith in him and did not contest the leadership at a party meeting today, leaving Gillard to be elected unopposed.

“I asked my colleagues to make a leadership change ... because I believed that a good government was losing its way,” Gillard told reporters.

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