Julia Gillard, who has won this morning’s leadership ballot with 70% of her Labor colleagues voting for her to keep the top job, says she has learned lessons from the leadership spill and is “impatient” to get on with the job, including a renewed focus on small business.
Speaking to reporters after winning the Caucus vote 71 to 31, the Prime Minister expressed regret that she did not better explain her decision to replace Kevin Rudd in 2010, but said the party would honour his leadership and was united ahead of the 2013 election.
Questioned whether she would continue with Rudd’s pledge to focus on small business if he won the prime ministership, Gillard said: “I always believed that we can do more to engage with people who have taken the risks, started their own business, and with Australians who are working people now but actually see that as a vision for their future.”
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“And so focusing on small business is very important to what we’ll do in the future.”
Gillard said she had “absolute confidence” the ALP could come together and win next year’s election.
“We have had fights in our party in the past, as have our Conservative colleagues,” she said, thanking colleagues for their “overwhelming support” and trusting her strength and ability to do the job.
She said further announcements on a ministerial reshuffle would be made shortly, following Rudd’s decision to resign as foreign minister last week.
Speaking earlier, Rudd said he would continue as member for Griffith and he accepted the vote of the Caucus without rancour.
It was time for wounds to be healed, Rudd said.
“I congratulate Julia on her strong win.”
Rudd said he chosen to resign as foreign minister and to challenge for the prime ministership because he believed it was the right thing to do.
And following a week in which several key Labor MPs criticised his leadership and said they would not work with him if he won back the top job, Rudd said he bore no malice.
“I bear no one any malice and if I’ve done wrong to anyone with what I’ve said and what I’ve done I apologise,” he said.
He also thanked his supporters, his family and his staff.
“We in this parliament … are wedded to a higher purpose,” Rudd said, highlighting the unemployed, indigenous people, and those who depend on disability services, the public health system and the public education system.
Gillard’s campaign centred on her ability to get things done, such as the mining tax, the structural separation of Telstra, the health deal with the states and the carbon tax.
But Rudd’s supporters pointed to his ability to knock off long-serving Prime Minister John Howard in the 2007 election, and argued that Rudd’s popularity within the electorate would hold the party in better stead to win the 2013 election.
Rudd and his family had called for people to get in contact with their local member to call for his reinstatement.
But Rudd’s bid failed, with several high-profile ministers declaring they would not work with him again and decrying his Government as dysfunctional and suffering from paralysis.