24 Jun 2010

Australia's Gillard inherits Pacific Islands Forum chairmanship

1:00 pm on 24 June 2010

Australia is to have a new leader after the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stood down as leader of the governing Labour Party today.

His deputy Julia Gillard will become the first female Prime Minister of Australia after Mr Rudd stepped down before a leadership ballot was due to be held this morning.

Labor government members backed Ms Gillard to replace Mr Rudd amid fears the party could lose power at the next election.

Support for the Labor government has plummeted in opinion polls due to Mr Rudd's postponement of a carbon trading scheme, and his inability to sell a controversial mining tax.

The leadership change means Ms Gillard will also head the Pacific Islands Forum, which Australia currently chairs.

The forum's next meeting will be held in Vanuatu in August.