Feb 27 - Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard emerges the clear winner in a leadership showdown with Kevin Rudd. Paul Chapman reports.
Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard emerged triumphant in a party leadership vote she called to head off a challenge from rival Kevin Rudd. It was a convincing win. SOUNDBITE: Australian Labour Party election returning officer Chris Hayes saying (English): "Julia Gillard has won the ballot 71 votes to 31." It's the end of Rudd's hopes of returning as prime minister before the next election in 2013. But he said he accepted the outcome of the ballot. SOUNDBITE: Kevin Rudd, defeated leadership challenger, saying (English): "I congratulate Julia on her strong win today. The caucus has spoken. I accept the caucus' verdict without qualification and without rancour. To each and everyone of my supporters, who together only delivered one third of the caucus, I thank them." Gillard says the fighting is over and it's time to get back to the business of government. SOUNDBITE: Julia Gillard, Australian Prime Minister, saying (English): "I want to say to Australians one and all, this issue, the leadership question, is now determined. You, the Australian people, rightly expect a government to focus on you. For government to be at the centre of everything that we -- for you to be at the centre of everything that government does. I can assure you that this political drama is over and now you are back at centre stage where you should properly be and you will be the focus of all of our efforts." Despite here victory Gillard now faces a major uphill task - rebuilding support for her divided and unpopular minority government. The opposition, led by Tony Abbot, has an election winning lead in opinion polls with pledges that include ditching the government's carbon tax and trade schemes. Abbot also opposes a proposed 30 per cent tax on iron ore and coal mining. Paul Chapman, Reuters