Australia’s Rudd again premier, facing uphill election

27th Jun 2013

Australia’s Kevin Rudd has been sworn in as prime minister for a second term, replacing Julia Gillard who was removed in a Labor Party caucus vote. Surveys suggest defeat for Labor in federal elections due in September.

Australia’s Governor-General Quentin Bryce swore in center-left former premier Kevin Rudd for a second prime ministerial term on Thursday, a day after the ouster of the country’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, in a bitter internal Labor Party ballot.

Rudd faces a major cabinet rebuild: Six key ministers, including party deputy leader Wayne Swan, resigned out of loyalty to Gillard, who said she would retire. Surveys predict an electoral win for Australia’s conservatives led by Tony Abbott.

Rudd selects Albanese as deputy

In an initial move on Thursday, incumbent Transport Minister Anthony Albanese was picked as deputy prime minister, while former immigration minister Chris Bowen became treasurer.

Analysts speculate that Rudd might seek an earlier election on August 24 to capitalize on an anticipated surge in voter support for Labor. Abbot has already called for an early poll.

Rudd, a Mandarin-speaking former diplomat, on Thursday appealed to younger voters and promised a better relationship with Australian businesses. They are facing a slowdown in trade with its partner China as a mining bonanza fades.

Business laments instability

The chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Peter Anderson, said business tolerance due to instability within government leadership had reached “breaking point.”

Abbott on Thursday accused Rudd of exacting “revenge” on Gillard, who ousted Rudd in an internal Labor Party ballot in 2010. Abbott also accused Gillard of displaying “poor prime ministership.”

Marian Sawer, a politics professor at the Canberra-based Australian National University said: “Gillard has been the victim of appalling levels of sexism not seen before in Australian public life.”

“[She has] been subjected to an unrelenting campaign of vilification by a loose coalition of shock jocks, bloggers and newspaper columnists [that has been] rhetorically violent in nature at times,” Sawer said.

ipj/slk (Reuters, AFP, AP)


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