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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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IMMIGRATION officials are preparing a 50-year migration plan to ensure that intakes consider a range of long-term issues such as climate change, water needs and national security.

The Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Andrew Metcalfe, said yesterday the department was conducting a review of the nation’s migration needs to ensure a more rounded and visionary approach.

”In terms of the future, we are trying to lift ourselves away from year-to-year decisions to a 50-year vision,” he told the Australian and New Zealand School of Government conference in Canberra.

”We are trying to move away from an immigration department that is responsive to one that can help the government achieve long-term objectives … A long-term planning framework … is something whose time has come.”

Mr Metcalfe said a well-planned skilled migration program could contribute to Australia’s long-term economic, demographic and environmental goals.

”We want to ensure our skilled migration programs are responding to longer-term skill needs which cannot be addressed through domestic training and skills development,” he said.

”The question then is how we can best address shorter-term labour market requirements … It will be important that the skilled migrants we choose are not only young and healthy but also have a high level of education, language proficiency and other skills. This will ensure that skilled migration contributes both to labour force growth and to the productivity of our labour force.”

Mr Metcalfe said the review will include an examination of the points system used to select skilled migrants, known as the Migration Occupations in Demand List.

”The MODL is not as flexible as we would like to address a rapidly changing and uncertain global environment. In my view, one of themes of this century will be the increased mobility of people around the globe, and we need to manage this adroitly.”

But the Government has denied it has adopted a new policy towards asylum seekers in the wake of a decision this week to process a group of 10 Afghan children on the mainland rather than on Christmas Island.

”These are 10 unaccompanied minors and therefore what’s happened is that they’ve been transferred from Christmas Island to the mainland on September 2,” he said

Asked whether there had been a change of policy, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said: ”Absolutely not.”

He told 3AW yesterday the group of 10 children had been transferred to the mainland because unaccompanied minors were given priority in processing.

”That’s what’s happening in the case of these minors,” he said. ”That’s why they’re treated separately.”

Source  :  www.smh.com.au

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AUSTRALIA has delivered a blunt message to India that it is selling education, not visas, even as the Rudd government deploys its most senior ministers to patch up relations damaged over a series of Indian student assaults.

Trade Minister Simon Crean, whose visit to India this week overlaps that of Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, outlined to the Confederation of Indian Industry yesterday federal government measures to crack down on shonky education and training providers in Australia.

But he said the crackdown could be successful only if similar action were taken in India to close down shonky education and immigration agents running scams to secure permanent Australian residency through student visas.

“Let’s be clear, we are offering a quality education in a safe environment,” Mr Crean said yesterday. “The quality of our education is what we are promoting, not the visa attached to it.

“For this to succeed, we also need the co-operation of the Indian government. The fact that politicians in both countries have been forced to focus on the issue improves the odds of coming up with a better system.”

Ms Gillard is understood to have delivered a similar message during meetings with Indian Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal and, late on Tuesday night, with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, where greater engagement between the two countries on defence, energy and climate change were also discussed.

Mr Crean denied Australia’s international education industry needed to be remarketed in India, despite the fact it is widely seen — and in some areas promoted — as a pathway to permanent residency.

But he conceded better co-operation between Australian government agencies was also needed to help stem student visa abuses.

What the student issue has done is shed a light on the importance of interaction between Austrade, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and those that market our services in the Department of Education, Employment and Work Relations in the protection of our brand,” he said yesterday.

In just eight days, India will have hosted three of Australia’s most senior politicians, Mr Crean, Ms Gillard and Wayne Swan.

By the end of the year, a total of eight Australian ministers will have graced Indian soil.

The ministerial offensive is aimed at patching bilateral relations, damaged by a recent series of attacks on Indian students in Australia, as well as building trade relations with the emerging Asian superpower.

Mr Crean, who is in India for a two-day meeting of G20 trade ministers ahead of the next Doha round of WTO talks in Pittsburgh later this month, said Australia’s trade relationship with India had historically been “underdone”.

The ministerial visits — which will culminate in a tour by Kevin Rudd later this year — were designed to correct that.

“We understand the fundamental importance of India to our future, just as we do China and the rest of Asia. This is going to be the fastest-growing region in the world for the next couple of decades, it is the place to be,” he said. “Australia fortunately positioned itself for that a couple of decades ago but we have to renew the effort.

“Obviously, if there is a hiccup in the relationship, as there has been here over student safety, of course we have to address it. Visits here are an important part of that.”

Canberra hopes that a successful culmination of the Doha talks — aimed at reducing international trade barriers — will help accelerate free trade agreement negotiations between Australia and India, still at the feasibility stage.

It was also concentrating on building trade ties in infrastructure and energy security areas, with particular focus on investments in gas and coal.

Mr Crean denied that Australia’s refusal to sell uranium to India — a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — would hurt the progress of the talks, despite Mr Singh again raising the issue during his meeting with Ms Gillard.

Source  :  The Australian

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THE Federal Government is trying to confirm the identities of three Australians believed to have been killed in the Indonesian terrorist hotel blasts.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told a press conference tonight that he had grave concerns for one embassy official and two other Australians in Jakarta.

Perth businessman Nathan Verity is believed to be one of the Australians killed in the bombings, which Mr Rudd described as “appalling”.

Jim Truscott, a personal friend, said Mr Verity had run a human resources and recruitment business out of Jakarta, but lived in Perth with his wife Vanessa and five-year-old son.

“He only lived in Jakarta for work. He would spend a couple of weeks in Jakarta and couple of weeks in Perth,” Mr Truscott told Fairfax Radio.

More Information  :  www.news.com.au

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A PLAN to help up to 124,000 retrenched workers has united the states but drawn criticism in Canberra.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signed a deal with the states and territories to give intensive help to unemployed people aged over 25.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) conference in Darwin agreed to give the jobless access to government-subsidised vocational training.

Labor says the “compact with retrenched workers” will help up to 124,000 people.

“Workers who have been retrenched as a consequence of this global recession have lost their jobs through no fault of their own,” Mr Rudd said.

“Acting to support young Australians who are finding it hard to enter the labour market … represents an important intervention by government.”

Under the agreement, the Federal Government’s new employment agency Job Services Australia matches retrenched workers, aged over 25, with a path to a qualification.

The state and territories would set aside training places.

The training is for people who have been out of work since January 2009 and who are registered with a Job Services Australia provider.

The entitlement is available from now until the end of 2011.

It follows an “earn or learn” COAG agreement reached in April to make youths aged 15 to 19 undertake training and guarantee places for 20-24 year-olds in skills development.

The Rudd Government says it has invested $300 million in programs to help retrenched workers, but it did not provide a cost for the latest one.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said COAG’s new scheme would prepare Australia for economic recovery.

“We know only too well how quickly this country can find itself in a situation of serious skills shortage.”

But Opposition employment participation spokesman Andrew Southcott said training programs for the unemployed had failed when Labor last took that approach in the mid-1990s.

“Training for training’s sake, without a job at the end of it, is cruel to the unemployed,” Mr Southcott said.

“The experience around the world is that a skills-first approach for the unemployed tends to be very expensive and you have poor outcomes.”

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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SYDNEY (AFP) — Prime Minister Kevin Rudd officially launched Australia’s bid to host the football World Cup in 2018 or 2022.

Rudd told an official ceremony at Parliament House in the national capital Canberra that Football Federation Australia (FFA) had the full backing of the government to bid for the showpiece event.

“The sheer odds are tough against Australia, eight other countries, but the reason the government had got behind the bid is that we as a nation can rise behind this great bid,” Rudd said.aus_worldcup

The premier said the chance to host a World Cup was a great opportunity for the nation.                               

“The challenges are great, but the prize is much greater,” he said.

“I salute those who have had the courage and the initiative and creativity to bring forth this idea.”

English Premier League stars, national skipper Lucas Neill and goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, also spoke at the launch, urging Australians to throw their support behind the World Cup bid.

FFA chairman Frank Lowy said it would be an “unparalleled opportunity” for Australia to earn official acceptance as a World Cup host.

“On the world stage, there is no event with the same level of global appeal or audience reach as the FIFA World Cup,” the property billionaire said in a statement.

Lowy said Australia?s “secret weapon” for winning the World Cup bid was the Australian people, and Australia’s desirability as a travel destination.

“People from all over the world want to visit our country and thanks to the performance of the Socceroos at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, as well as the many thousands of Australian fans who followed them, the rest of the world has a very positive view of us.”

Lowy also pointed to Australia’s record of hosting successful major sports events such as the 1956 and 2000 Olympic Games.

Australia are among nine bidders, along with Belgium-Netherlands, England, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Portugal-Spain, Russia and the United States, for the 2018 World Cup.

The same nine bidders are also in the running for the 2022 World Cup, along with Qatar and South Korea.

World football governing body FIFA will announce both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts in December 2010.

Australia have already qualified to play in next year’s World Cup in South Africa.

Source  :  www.google.com

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