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Gillard trounces Rudd to stay as PM

Australian prime minister Julia Gillard has easily won an internal party vote against the colleague she deposed two years ago, Kevin Rudd, and declared that she had put down the internal strife that has undermined her unpopular government for months.

Ms Gillard defeated Mr Rudd 71 votes to 31 in a ballot of Labour Party parliamentarians, but she faces the challenge of reuniting her bitterly divided party and Cabinet.

Mr Rudd resigned as foreign minister shortly before she called the vote last week, and at least five other members of Ms Gillard's Cabinet backed her challenger.

Ms Gillard described her win as "overwhelming" after months of "ugly" infighting within the ranks of the centre-left party.

"Today I want to say to Australians one and all: This issue, the leadership question, is now determined," she said. "I can assure you that this political drama is over."

Ms Gillard won one of the most crushing victories in a major party leadership ballot of recent years after one of the most vicious public campaigns between rival camps of the same party ever seen in modern Australian politics.

After his defeat, Mr Rudd called on Labour to unite behind Ms Gillard. He had warned during his brief leadership campaign that she would lead Labour to certain defeat at elections next year.

"I bear no one any malice and if I've done wrong to anyone with what I've said and what I've done, I apologise," he told reporters. Mr Rudd said it was time the "wounds were healed" within the party.

Ms Gillard called for the leadership ballot to confirm her authority after simmering leadership tensions that have destabilised the government for months. She would have had an additional vote, but one of her supporters had recently given birth and was absent for the ballot.

Rudd supporters had argued that Ms Gillard is unelectable, while Gillard supporters said Mr Rudd had shown himself to be an ineffective leader before Ms Gillard deposed him in 2010 in an internal party coup.


From Belfast Telegraph