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Australia's 1st female PM Julia to change fate for Labor party

06-24-2010 15:59 BJT

By Vienna Ma

CANBERRA, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Julia Gillard on Thursday became Australia's first female Prime Minister, ousting Kevin Rudd as Labor Party leader after his plans to boost taxes on the mining industry deepened a slump in opinion polls.

Dissatisfaction with Rudd hit a record 55 percent, according to a telephone survey of 1,147 people between June 18 and 20 published in the Australian newspaper this week.

A series of damaging polls, stemming largely from the shelving of the emissions trading scheme (ETS) and more recently the war with the mining sector over the resources super profits tax, had made Kevin Rudd's position as prime minister untenable.

"I take my fair share of responsibility for the Rudd government 's record, for our important achievements and for errors made," Gillard said.

"I asked my colleagues to make a leadership change. A change because I believed that a good government was losing its way."

Gillard requested a ballot to challenge over Rudd on Wednesday night, adding he had lost the support of some parts of his center- left Labor Party.

On Thursday morning, she became the first female, as well as the 27th Prime Minister in Australia when Rudd had been voted out by the Members of Parliament.

As one of her first acts as prime minister, Gillard has scrapped a 38 million dollars (33.26 million U.S. dollars) advertising campaign to promote the tax as a sign of good faith.

She said reaching an agreement on the Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT) is one of her first priorities after being elevated to the top job by the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, although she has reiterated that the government will not abandon the RSPT.

The negotiations with the mining industry will continue to be led by the Treasurer (and new Deputy Prime Minister) Wayne Swan and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson.

Julia Gillard has moved quickly to distance herself from the policy failings of the Rudd government, declaring a truce with miners and restating her commitment to combating climate change, Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported.

With the decision to shelve the Emission Trading Scheme having been so damaging for Rudd, the new prime minister has moved to align herself with millions of voters concerned about climate change.

"It is my intention to lead a government that does more to harness the wind and the sun and the new emerging technologies," Gillard said, adding she believed human beings had contributed to climate change.

"It is as disappointing to me as it is to millions of Australians that we do not have a price on carbon."

"If elected as prime minister, I will re-prosecute the case for a carbon price at home and abroad."

According to AAP, winning votes back from the Right, however, may be somewhat more difficult.

In terms of the economy, Gillard has committed to sticking with the Rudd government's timeline for returning the budget to surplus by 2012-13.

With the issue of asylum seekers again looming as a key election battlefront, Gillard also hinted at a tougher border protection regime.

"I understand that Australians are disturbed when they see boats arrive on our shores unannounced.

"Australians wanted strong border management and I will provide it."

Opposition leader Tony Abbott said the new prime minister faced a "big challenge" to offer the right policies to the Australian people.

"The new prime minister has admitted that the government has lost its way," Abbott said.

"Her challenge will be to demonstrate how things will be different given that she is as committed, it seems, to policies of the former prime minister, as he was himself."

The Australian public could expect a "fierce and tough" contest with the coalition, Abbott said.

"I respect the abilities of the prime minister and hope as well as being a tough contest, it will also be a clean and fair contest. "


Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: Xinhua

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