Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard wins the leadership vote unopposed, ensuring she will lead the government until the general elections in September.
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA (MARCH 21, 2013) Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard stared down another leadership crisis on Thursday (March 21) and ensured she will lead the government until September 14 elections after her chief rival, Kevin Rudd, said he did not have enough support to replace her.
Gillard has now defeated Rudd for the leadership three times, but faces the prospect of trying to unify a deeply divided party and then turning around opinion polls which show her government will be easily defeated in the general election.
Gillard was re-elected unopposed, while Treasurer Wayne Swan was re-elected Deputy Prime Minister unopposed.
Gillard and Swan, who called a joint news conference on Thursday after the vote, said it was back to business for the government.
"Today the leadership of our political party, the Labor Party, has been settled and settled in the most conclusive fashion possible. The whole business is completely at an end. It has ended now. The government has a plan for the nations future. We've got plenty of work to be getting on with it and we'll be getting on with it in a few minutes time. I'll turn now to the deputy prime minister for some comments," Gillard said.
"I think today's result does end these matters once and for all and what we will is rededicate ourselves to working every minute to put in place a programme which will lift our country up and maximise all of the opportunities which will flow in our region and to this country in the years ahead," said Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan.
Gillard's leadership has been under threat for most of the past two years as her minority government lumbered from one crisis to another, despite an economy which avoided recession after the 2008 global crisis and which has seen has seen 21 years of continuous growth.
Gillard, Australia's first female prime minister, replaced Rudd in a party coup in June 2010. The dumping of Rudd, an elected prime minister, angered many voters who have never forgiven Gillard for the way she became leader.
Gillard defeated Rudd a second time in a leadership vote in February 2012, prompting Rudd to promise at the time that he would not challenge and would only take on the leadership again with the overwhelming support of his party.
Rudd said on Thursday he did not have the numbers to win a comprehensive victory over Gillard.
Gillard has failed to arrest a slump in opinion polls, which predict a major defeat in September with Labor losing about 20 seats in the 150-seat parliament. Despite the years of economic growth, Gillard's government has failed to win over voters who believe her economic management is flawed.
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