| February 27th, 2012
Julia Gillard has retained the Labor leadership in a resounding 71 votes to 31 defeat of Kevin Rudd in a caucus ballot.
Ms Gillard acknowledged the "ugliness" of the past week but assured the Australian people the leadership issue was now determined.
"This political drama is over and you (the Australian people) are now the focus of all of our efforts," Ms Gillard said.
She also acknowledged this was a disappointing and difficult day for Mr Rudd, and that "as a nation we must honour Kevin Rudd's many achievements as prime minister".
"He's been an amazing advocate of Australia's interests on the world stage," she said.
Craig Emerson will act as interim foreign minister.
Mr Rudd thanked his supporters, adding "to those who did not vote for me, can I thank them for their friendship and civility".
He said he held no grudges for perceived attacks on his character from colleagues in the past week and that he would continue as the Federal Member for Griffith until the next election and beyond.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott attacked the government following today's result.
"This isn't a good government being brought down by a wrecker," he said. "It's a bad government being exposed by a whistle-blower."
Caucus returning officer Chris Hayes said: “The ballot has now taken place. Julia Gillard has won the ballot 71 votes to 31.”
The result was initially reported wrongly as 73-29 in Twitter reports that were picked up and widely circulated.
Despite her margin of victory, the Prime Minister still faces a tough challenge to heal her divided party, as Mr Rudd moves to the backbench.
Mr Hayes said the mood had been tense in the party room.
He said Ms Gillard had urged the party to come together, while Mr Rudd promised to work to unify the party.
Both Ms Gillard and Mr Rudd spoke for no more than three minutes, and he said there had been no second count of votes, despite report of a recount.
There were 102 voting caucus members today with one absentee, Michelle Rowland, who has just had a baby.
Earlier the Prime Minister urged the 102 caucus members attending the challenge in Canberra’s Parliament House at 9am (Cairns time) to end the "destabilisation" campaign run by Mr Rudd and his backers.
One punter backed Ms Gillard with a bet of $300,000.
In her election-eve pitch, Ms Gillard said she was feeling "determined" and believed caucus would unite after the ballot to bury the leadership issue once and for all.
"At the end of what has been a very difficult week, the things that unite us in the Labor Party are far, far stronger than anything else," she said in her Melbourne electorate.
"We will unite tomorrow and we will get our shoulders to the wheel delivering Labor’s programs and plans."
However, Mr Rudd feared speculation about the Labor leadership could remain despite him promising to go to the backbench and not challenge Ms Gillard a second time before the next election.
"There is a fear, on the part of many, that other folk will line up and have a go at whoever the leader is who emerges from Monday – now be it myself or Julia – and I would be very concerned if that were to happen," Mr Rudd said.
The man who was deposed by Ms Gillard in June 2010 also called for unity.
"If Julia is returned on Monday then she will have my unequivocal support between now and the next election because we have interests way beyond individuals here," he said yesterday.
"It’s time for us to unite rather than divide."
The calls for unity came after Rudd supporter Anthony Albanese made a heartfelt speech on Saturday in which he had despaired that Labor’s legacy of good government since 2007 had been devalued by the infighting.
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