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48-year-old Julia Gillard has been one of the Australian government's best public performers in the media and in parliament. Here's some background now on the country's first female prime minister.
Gillard was born in Wales in the UK and migrated to Australia at the age of four. She was a lawyer before joining the federal parliament in 1998.
After Kevin Rudd took office in 2007, Gillard was appointed deputy Prime Minister and minister for education, employment and labor relations. She says she considers herself a hardworking and practical person who hopes to bring changes to the country.
She is seen by party rank and file as a warmer and more popular politician than Rudd. Labor's major factions have swung their support behind Gillard. They're hoping she stands a much better chance of leading a successful re-election campaign.
The next election is due within six months, though political experts have been expecting it to be called around October.