Sydney: Julia Gillard became Australia’s first female Prime Minister on June 24 after incumbent Kevin Rudd stood aside in a party vote amid plunging approval ratings and a run-in with the mining industry over a proposed tax.
Treasurer Wayne Swan, who is to represent Australia at this weekend’s summit in Canada of the Group of 20 of the world’s largest economies, was elected unopposed as deputy party leader and would slot in as deputy Prime Minister.
The Labor government has only a few months to run before a parliamentary election, and Gillard gave that as the reason she tore down Rudd.
“It was necessary for me to take this step to take control and to ensure that the government got back on track,” she said.
Gillard — a member of Rudd’s infamous Gang of Four, the inner Cabinet that made the big decisions of his government like dumping a proposed carbon emissions-trading scheme without consulting Cabinet colleagues — nevertheless promised a return to collective decision-making.
She also offered a new start in negotiations with mining companies over a proposed 40-percent profits tax they argued would render many projects unviable.