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Prime Minister elect Kevin Rudd: He's back.

ROLLING UPDATES

10.38pm: Kevin Rudd has addressed the media in Canberra and said he was not able to stand by and “let an Abbott Government to come to power in this country by default”.

Rudd said Julia Gillard is a woman of great intelligence, strength and energy.”She’s achieved much under the circumstances of a minority government.”

“If it were not for Julia we would not have a Fair Work Act. We would not have a national literacy scheme.”

9.59pm: Julia Gillard has reportedly gone to the Governor General’s house to resign as Prime Minister.

9.46pm: Kevin Rudd will hold a press conference shortly.

9.36pm: Julia Gillard has addressed the media, saying: “In view of his election I have written to the GG asking her to commission Mr Rudd as Prime Minister.”

Gillard said she was proud to be the first female Prime Minister and of the party’s achievements.

“It will be easier for the next woman, and the woman after that and the woman after that. And I am proud of that,”

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0uhHuEw8LY&feature=youtu.be
Wayne Swan says he will contest the next election.

9.08pm: New reports from Paul Murray on Sky News that Kevin Rudd told the Labor caucus that this election will not be about “saving the furniture” and that Abbott is “completely beatable”.

9.04pm: Julia Gillard will hold a press conference at 9:15pm.

9.01pm: Greg Combet has quit as Climate Minister. He said: “It is well known that I have been a strong supporter of Julia Gillard. This is the right thing to do.”

8.49pm: Anthony Albanese has been elected as the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party 61 to 38 votes. Senator Penny Wong will be the leader of the Government in the Senate. She was elected unanimously.

8.37pm: The Governor General is seeking legal advice before confirming Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister once again.

8.32pm: We’re still here! There’s just nothing happening… Labor caucus members still meeting.

8.08pm: Andrew Wilkie has confirmed that he will support Kevin Rudd to form a Government.

8.02pm: Contest reportedly underway for deputy leader. Simon Crean and Anthony Albanese are candidates.

7.58pm: James Massola from the Australian Financial Review reports that Craig Emerson and Joe Ludwig have resigned their ministries.

7.57pm: Reports that Wayne Swan has quit as Deputy Leader and Stephen Conroy has quit of Leader of Labor in the Senate.

7.56pm: David Spears from Sky News reporting that Rudd will go to the polls on August 24.

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7.55pm: Kevin Rudd is elected as leader of the federal parliamentary Labor Party.

Labor MPs Chris Hayes confirms that the ballot is over. Kevin Rudd won 57-45. There was no spill for the deputy leadership position. It is expected that this will happen later tonight.

7.51pm: Reports that Kevin has won the leadership of the Labor Party, 57 votes to 45.

7.25: Sky News reporting that sources suggest Rudd will call an August 24 election.

7.08: Sky News David Speers is reporting that the Gillard camp believe Kevin Rudd has the numbers and will win the spill.

7.04: The Labor leadership ballot to decide who will lead the party to the next election is underway.

6.59: Kevin Rudd walks into the Caucus room alone.

6.58 Julia Gillard walking into the room followed by Craig Emerson, Kate Ellis, Kate Lundy, Wayne Swan.

6.54: Caucus members have begun arriving at the Caucus room.

6.38: Bill Shorten announces his support for Kevin Rudd. “I have now come to the view that Labor stands the best chance… if Kevin Rudd is our leader.”

“If Gillard wins tonight, I will offer my resignation as a cabinet minister,” he said.

6.37: Bill Shorten addresses the media saying: “What I am about to tell you I have already informed my prime minister of.”

6:.25pm: Bill Shorten is going to be talking to the media shortly.

6.16pm: Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan tweeted: “In all my yrs in politics, I’ve never met anyone with a Labor heart like @juliagillard’s. Hers is a true Labor Govt driven by Labor values.”

6.13pm: Former Rudd Press Secretary Lachlan Harris says that Kevin is certain he has the numbers.

6.07pm: Senior sources from both camps think they have enough votes to win.

5.58pm: Latika Bourke of the ABC says Labor members are saying that the secret ballot will benefit Rudd, with several caucus members likely to switch their allegiance in private.

5.54pm: ABC journalists reporting that it’s become difficult to get any Gillard supporters to go on the record. Earlier in the day, it was apparently the other way around. That is, it was hard to get Rudd supporters to speak up.

5.48pm: Most press gallery journalists are reporting that Kevin Rudd has between 55 and 60 votes confirmed. If all of those votes hold then this will be enough for Rudd to win the Labor leadership ballot tonight.

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5.45pm: Queensland MP Bernie Ripoll on ABC24, says he will be supporting Prime Minister Gillard.

5.42pm: Keiran Gilbert of Sky News clocks over into his 12th hour live on air. Impressive.

5.22pm: Senator Kate Lundy of the ACT confirms on Twitter she is supporting Prime Minister Gillard.

5.20pm: “I’ve got to zip” says Rudd, as he walks from the Labor caucus room flanked by staff and family members.

5.18pm: Rudd acknowledges that he has changed his position. He says he accepts responsibility for his previous statements about the leadership. He says the Australian people will be the ones who judge him.

Rudd promises no pay back and no retribution and says that he will work to unite the Labor Party. He confirms he will not contest the next election if he loses tonight.

5.16pm: Rudd wearing blue tie. Just saying…

Kevin Rudd announcing he will contest the Labor leadership.

5.15pm: Rudd says the ALP is ‘on course for a catastrophic defeat’ and is doing this to answer the Australian people’s call for there to be a real choice at this election – other than Tony Abbott.

5.13pm: Rudd announces that he will be a candidate in the ballot this evening. He says a third of members have signed a petition calling for this to happen.

5.08pm: There is an Australian flag behind the podium in the caucus room, that means he’s challenging… right?

5.05pm: And we’re all still waiting for Kevin…

4.50pm: Kevin Rudd’s office confirms he will hold a press conference at 5.00pm. The entire Canberra Press Gallery is assembled and waiting to see if Rudd will put his name forward for tonight’s ballot.

…………………..

Well, it’s on. Again. As in, again, again.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has just appeared live on Sky News. And by golly, she’s offered up some fighting words.

The Prime Minister has thrown down the gauntlet for Kevin Rudd to actually put his name forward in a ballot and to end the leadership speculation that has been plaguing the Labor Party for three years.

Gillard has called on any candidate for the role of Labor Party Leader (and quite possibly our next Prime Minister) to commit that they will quit politics forever, if unsuccessful in the ballot, which will take place tonight.

When pushed by interviewer David Spears, Gillard confirmed that she will not contest her Victorian seat of Lalor at the next election if she is unsuccessful in this evening’s caucus vote.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard talking to David Speers today.

“If you win you are Labor leader. If you lose you will leave politics” said Gillard, as she laid down a final and official challenge to her detractors and put forward an ultimatum that was clearly directed at Kevin Rudd.

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“I’m not interested in public accolades, I’m not interested in applause, I’m not interested in any of that personality politics,” Gillard said. “I came into politics to make a difference.”

So – despite there being NO formal challenger to her leadership at this stage, Julia Gillard says she will call a ballot for the Labor leadership at 7.00pm tonight.

And now? We wait.

The seemingly endless speculation about the Labor leadership will finally end this evening.

According to The Guardian Australia’s Lenore Taylor, a petition began circulating amongst Labor MPs to remove Julia Gillard as leader late this morning. The Prime Minister told Skye News that she has not seen that petition, nor have her colleagues pressured her to step down. But has decided to call this ballot anyway.

This strategic move from Gillard echoes her smart politics during the previous ballot, where she called the vote on early in an effort to stop Kevin Rudd getting the numbers he needed to win.

Question Time today.

Previously, Rudd has appeared reluctant to be part of an outright challenge for the position of leader. This has left a big question mark over Kevin Rudd’s willingness to actually stand for the job and has meant that potential new Rudd supporters have been very cautious about getting behind this push. After all, they don’t want to see another meeting like last time – where there was an election called for the position of leader and Kevin Rudd failed to nominate.

However most Labor insiders are currently saying that Kevin Rudd will have the 53 votes he needs to become leader of the Labor Party once again – IF he decides to stand. It is understood that enough Gillard supporters have switched sides from the last time this whole debacle happened, to make Rudd leader once more.

It was confirmed this morning that rumours the Prime Minister would require a show of hands in any leadership ballot were not true. This means that Labor caucus members will take part in a secret ballot, allowing key members to switch their allegiances without fear of political retribution from factional heavyweights and union leaders.

Earlier today, key independent Tony Windsor said that he would withdraw his support for Labor if there was a change of leadership, and would vote in favour of a ‘no confidence’ motion in the Government. In those circumstances, Windsor would likely support Tony Abbott and the Coalition to form Government. However another independent, Bob Katter has said he would support a Labor Government led by Kevin Rudd.

Mamamia will keep you updated through the evening with live updated from 4.30pm rolling .

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