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Kevin Rudd Elected Leader Of The ALP; Gillard New Deputy

Kevin Rudd became leader of the ALP on December 4, 2006.

Rudd defeated Kim Beazley by 49 votes to 39 in a Caucus ballot.

Julia Gillard was elected deputy leader unopposed, replacing Jenny Macklin.

The new Opposition Leader was the first Queenslander to lead the ALP since Bill Hayden (1977-83).

  • Watch the Rudd-Gillard press conference (21m)
  • Listen to Rudd-Gillard (21m)

Transcript of Kevin Rudd’s opening remarks at his first press conference as ALP leader.

So now the new and the real work begins.

Today the Australian Labor party elected a new leadership team with a new leadership style for Australia’s future. A new style of leadership.

Kim Beazley’s just spoken to you. Kim is a good man. I’ve known him for a long, long time. He spoke very well today. He is a man who has given to this party and this movement and this country a hang of a lot over the last quarter of a century or more.

He’s also, in the last two years of his leadership left me, as the new leader, with a solid policy foundation on which to build and I thank him for that.

In that work he’s been greatly assisted by Jenny Macklin, his deputy, and Jenny has been a first class deputy. I would like to honour – and Julia with me – the work which Jenny has done as the deputy leader of the Labor party these last several years.

Today has also been a day of terrible tragedy for Kim and his family, and our condolences and those of our families go to Kim and his family on this day. And I know that everyone in this room will be respecting his privacy at this difficult time.

Kim, in his remarks before, said that family was the most important thing. He’s absolutely right.

For me, my family is the most important thing in my life. It’s the backbone of my life. If you’ve been in this bloody business of politics for a while, you know how much of a backbone to your life your family is.

And I’d like to thank my wife Therese of 25 years – we celebrated our 25th anniversary just last month.

And our children – Jess, Nicholas, Marcus – for their continued support through what you all know in politics is a difficult life.

Family is important, and for me it is essential.

I said before that the Labor party today elected a new leadership team, we’ve elected a new style of leadership for Australia’s future.

Our purpose through that is to deliver a new policy agenda for the nation. And in the weeks and months ahead, we will be sleeves rolled up, doing that.

Our belief is that Australia has reached a fork in the road.

There’s a fork in the road when it comes to our economy. The question that’s being asked is will Australia in the future be a manufacturing country? Will we still make things? Or is that all gone? We believe we have a future as a manufacturing country. We have a future with new knowledge intensive industries, but it’s one where government must be engaged, not just sitting idly by, watching from the sidelines.

We also see that there’s a fork in the road when it comes to the laws governing our workplaces. When I travel the length and breadth of this country and talk to working families everywhere, as Julia and I did the other day in my electorate in Brisbane, people asked this question: they’re concerned about their kids becoming guinea pigs in this new dangerous experiment of John Howard’s which he calls Work Choices. Another fork in the road.

A fork in the road in climate change. We can either have rhetoric – political rhetoric that doesn’t mean much – or we can have a real alternative policy vision on climate change. One which delivers real outcomes. I think the Australian people are sick and tired of political posturing on these core questions.

A fork in the road also when it comes to education and health. Julia and I were talking the other day about how it was we managed to get into politics and to be where we are today. A previous Labor government made it possible for us.

I came from a family which, I don’t think looking at the family history, had ever darkened the doors of a university until it came my turn.

And then, through the reforms of the Labor government of the 1970s, the likes of me were able to get to university.

Of course, it’s broader than that. It’s the quality of our schools, it’s the quality of technical education and TAFEs as well. But it makes me really worried, when I see this widening fork in the road today, and working families around the country now are asking themselves this question: can we afford to have our kids have the best quality education, university and elsewhere.

And the other day I mentioned also another fork in the road – one not often talked about in this country, but I think it’s critical – and that’s the actual fabric of our federation.

Here in Canberra we often think this is consisted of a once-yearly or twice yearly bun fight, or lovefest between premiers, chief ministers and the prime minister. Underneath all that, there’s actually deep structural shifts underway in how our structure and system of government is working. And it effects the way in which key services to Australian families are delivered in schools and hospitals and law and order and the like. And what I’m concerned about is that our federation doesn’t just need fiddling at the margins, it needs fundamental reform. And you’ll hear more of that from me in the days ahead.

This fork in the road has emerged because John Howard has taken a bridge too far. A bridge too far on industrial relations, a bridge too far when it comes to Iraq, and a bridge too far on climate change by not going far enough.

And so the call to the Australian people these days, I believe is this: it’s time to restore the balance, it’s time to reclaim the centre ground.

This fork in the road presents us with clear alternatives.

And my commitment to you, as ladies and gentlemen of the press and through you to the people of Australia, is this: by the time we get to the next election you will have a clear, comprehensive, alternative policy plan for Australia’s future. An alternative, not an echo.

In the days ahead I’ll be working on the composition of Labor’s front bench. That will be important. We have a strong group of people who will serve Labor well in this parliament, and in the country as well. That’s going to take some time, but that will be one the next tasks we turn our minds to once we’re through question time.

To conclude, I have great faith in this country of ours, Australia. My family have been in this place, according to the family history, since the second fleet, and on the wrong side of the law at that. I think things have changed since. But the more you get to know this country, and the more you travel in it, the more you experience the attitudes, the spirit, the commitment of the Australian people. What you do is this: the Australian people have about them an energy and enthusiasm for their future. They want a strong economy, they want to look after their families and they want to look after themselves. But they don’t want to throw fairness out the back door. And that’s what we’ve seen too much of with this current government.

Transcript of remarks by Julia Gillard, new Deputy Leader of the ALP, at the press conference following the Caucus vote.

It’s very proudly that I stand here today joining Kevin (Rudd) in offering the Australian Labor Party and the Australian people a new style of leadership.

I agree with him that Australians are looking for a new style of leadership and they’re looking to protect fairness at work and fairness beyond work. They’re looking to protect that traditional Australian fair go.

My family aren’t long-time Australians; we actually chose to come here as migrants and like hundreds of thousands, indeed, millions, they came here in part because Australia offered them a fair go – a precious thing about our culture, and something that we’ve got to make sure is protected and enhanced, and I agree with Kevin that the election we will have next year is a fork in the road.

Can I join with Kevin in offering my condolences to Kim Beazley and his family on what was very unexpected and tragic news.

Can I also say about Kim Beazley that he was a Labor legend when I came to this parliament in 1998 and I think he will always be a Labor legend and always honoured and respected by Labor people for the contribution he has made over a lifetime to the Australian Labor Party.

Can I say, in respect of Kim’s deputy Jenny Macklin, I first got to know Jenny in Victoria – we’re both Victorians – I first got to know her when she was working on health policy and she came to this parliament already with a huge reputation as a policy analyst. She’s brought those skills to bear for the Labor party in a series of portfolios, of course in aged care, in health and most recently in education, but she’s brought those skills to bear beyond the immediate portfolios that she’s held. She’s made a very significant contribution to Labor’s policy agenda.

We’re enthusiastic – it’s been a big weekend, it’s been a big day, but we’re enthusiastic now about getting on with the task of winning the next election, and so it will be sleeves rolled up and around the country talking to Australians about that election and about their vision and aspirations for this country.

Can I thank my partner Tim for joining me today.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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