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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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A new educational resource kit on citizenship will provide school children across the country with a greater understanding of our civic responsibilities and what it means to be an Australian citizen.

The school resource book – I am Australian: Exploring Australian Citizenship – is designed to assist teachers to deliver more in-depth lessons on Australian citizenship and civics to upper primary and lower secondary school students.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said the school resource book will help students better understand the meaning and significance of Australian citizenship.

‘Knowledge of Australian citizenship and civic responsibilities is important for all Australians, no matter how they became citizens,’ Senator Evans said.

‘This will be a valuable learning tool for all students, not only for those who have come here from other countries, but also for those who have lived all their lives in Australia.

‘It will also help students appreciate the contribution made to Australia by people from diverse backgrounds, whose journey to Australia was completed when they became citizens.’

The school resource book contains classroom activities which are linked to the curricula of each state and territory and are specifically designed for upper primary and lower secondary school students. The activities relate to Australia’s democratic beliefs, Australian citizen case studies and what it means to be an Australian citizen.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has been producing citizenship resources for schools since 2001. The updated school resource book coincides with the 60th anniversary of Australian citizenship.

Since the first citizenship ceremony in 1949, more than four million people from more than 200 countries have become Australian citizens.

Senator Evans launched the new school resource book with Hindmarsh MP Steve Georganas at the Plympton Primary School in Adelaide, where the Minister conducted a citizenship ceremony for a student and his father.

Zhenguo (Ken) Yang, 43, and his son Pengyu (Kevin), 11, from the People’s Republic of China, became Australian citizens after migrating to Australia in 2005. Mr Yang, a network engineer, came to Australia with his wife Qihong (Linda) Ling, who is studying nursing, to pursue better educational and career opportunities for the family.

‘I congratulate Mr Yang and his son Kevin on their decision to become Australian citizens,’ Mr Georganas said.

‘Citizenship represents a commitment to Australia and its people, the values we share and our common future. It also symbolises our sense of belonging to the country where we have been born or have decided to make our home.’

Source  :  http://www.minister.immi.gov.au/media/media-releases/2009/ce09100.htm

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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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