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Australia has its first female Prime Minister after Julia Gillard replaced Kevin Rudd at a partyroom meeting this morning.

In an unprecedented move, Ms Gillard will replace Mr Rudd less than six months out from this year’s federal election.

Once she is sworn in by Governor-General Quentin Bryce, Ms Gillard will become Australia’s 27th prime minister since Federation.

Ms Gillard, a Victorian who represents the Melbourne seat of Labor, will be joined by Treasurer Wayne Swan as her deputy. Mr Swan is from Queensland, like Mr Rudd.

After the caucus meeting this morning, Ms Gillard emerged with Mr Swan by her side.

She said she was honoured to be Australia’s first female PM.

“I feel very honoured and I’ll be making a statement shortly,“ she said.

A smiling Mr Rudd emerged from the partyroom 20 minutes later with Senator John Faulkner by his side. He refused to comment to the throng of reporters which chased him back to his office.

After it became clear that Mr Rudd’s support in the ALP was evaporating, he decided against standing for the PM position this morning.

All elements of the Labor Party swung behind Ms Gillard in the face of opinion polls which show the Government still in a winning position but with dire satisfaction ratings for Mr Rudd.

The Labor Party’s returning officer for the meeting, NSW senator Michael Forshaw, said Mr Rudd, Ms Gillard and Mr Swan had given gracious speeches.

Declaring Ms Gillard would lead the Labor Party to victory at the next election, Senator Forshaw conceded the events of the past 24 hours had been tough

“This has been a difficult time for the Prime Minister and has been a difficult time for the party,” he said.

A visibly tired Senator Forshaw paid tribute to Mr Rudd.

“He led us to victory in 2007, a victory that was achieved when many people thought we still would be spending more years in opposition,” he said.

“That was a great achievement.

“We now have a new team and I’m looking confidently forward to the next election.”

Brand MHR  Gary Gray, who according to a recent Westpoll would lose his seat despite sitting on a 6.1 per cent margin, said ahead of the poll that a change was needed to turn around the Government’s electoral chances.

“It’s necessary to have both a fresh pair of hands, fresh eyes and a different approach to the management of government,” he told ABC radio.

It is understood Mr Swan will remain in the Treasury portfolio.

Source : www.thewest.com.au

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