Rudd to step down as Australia’s Labor leader

Agence France-Presse
(2nd UPDATE) Australia's Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd concedes to conservative challenger Tony Abbott

CONSERVATIVE CHALLENGER. ABC predicts Tony Abbott's conservative coalition will win 90 seats in the 150-seat lower House of Representatives. Photo by AFP

SYDNEY, Australia (2nd UPDATE) – Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced he would step down as Labor chief after a heavy defeat to the conservatives in national elections Saturday, September 7, following years of leadership ructions.

“I will not be recontesting the leadership of the parliamentary Labor Party. The Australian people I believe deserve a fresh start with our leadership,” Rudd said in his concession speech

Earlier, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation called a clear win for the Tony Abbott-led conservative opposition over Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Labor in national polls.

With nearly 21 percent of the vote counted, the ABC predicted Abbott’s Liberal/National coalition will win 90 seats in the 150-seat lower House of Representatives. It forecast Labor will take 58.

“At this stage I’m seeing consistently Labor behind and losing seats,” the state broadcaster’s election analyst Antony Green said.

“The coalition is on a pretty secure 74 seats already. On that basis they’re going to get a majority. I think we can say the government has been defeated.”

Several senior Labor figures have already conceded Abbott will win, led by Defence Minister Stephen Smith.

“The government will be defeated tonight,” he told ABC.

Well-wishes

Six years of Labor rule come to an end as Rudd wished his rival well.

“A short time again I telephoned Tony Abbott to concede defeat at this national election,” he said at a party function in Brisbane.

“As prime minister of Australia, I wish him well in the high office of prime minister of this country.”

With 80 percent of the votes counted, the Australian Electoral Commission showed Abbott’s Liberal/National coalition was leading in 88 seats in the House of Representatives, to Labor’s 56.

Rudd said Labor had “fought the good fight”.

“Tonight is the time to unite as the great Australian nation,” he added to a cheering crowd of supporters.

“Because whatever our politics may be we are all first and foremost Australian and the things that unite us are more powerful than the things that divide us, which is why the world marvels at Australia.”

Abbott, 55, running as opposition leader in his second election, has made a paid parental leave scheme his “signature” policy, while pledging to scrap the carbon tax and make billions of dollars of savings to bring debt down. 

Voters turned out in force early and many admitted they had tuned out of the campaign and made up their minds some time ago, with the toppling of Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female prime minister, by Rudd and instability at the top of Labor a common theme.

Despite the logistical difficulties in such a large country, Australians overwhelmingly abide by their obligation to vote, turnout never falling below 90 percent since it became compulsory in 1924. – Rappler.com

 

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