Australian PM Gillard Retains Labor Leadership

CANBERRA

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard retained the Labor party’s top job Thursday after no-one stood against her in a ballot called in response to building pressure over her leadership.

Gillard survived after former leader Kevin Rudd decided not to challenge.

Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan was also retained in his position unopposed after Simon Crean withdrew, according to Chris Hayes, returning officer for Labor party caucus votes.

Gillard called the ballot as internal unrest mounted in a party floundering ahead of a general election in September.

Her decision came after senior cabinet minister Crean openly called for a vote, with the premier lagging badly in opinion polls and facing rampant leadership speculation.

Rudd was widely expected to challenge Gillard but said he was a man of honour and would abide by earlier pledges not to run against her again after an abortive leadership challenge in February last year.

“I’m not prepared to dishonour my word … others take such commitments lightly, I do not,” he said.

“I have been very plain about that for a long period of time.

“Secondly, I have also said that the only circumstances under which I would consider a return to leadership would be if there was an overwhelming majority of the parliamentary party requesting such a return, drafting me to return and the position was vacant.

“I am here to inform you that those circumstances do not exist.”

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