Kevin Rudd sworn in as new Aussie PM
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Dubbed “Recycled Rudd” in newspaper headlines, Kevin Rudd returned as Australia’s prime minister Thursday, reviving his party’s hopes of avoiding an election massacre but giving voters few clues where he plans to take the country.
Rudd was sworn in a day after wrenching the job back from Julia Gillard, his former deputy, who took over through her own internal coup three years ago but had a strained relationship with Australian voters from the start.
He is seen as more charismatic than Gillard, though his abrasiveness toward his fellow lawmakers helped lead to his 2010 downfall. In Parliament on Thursday, he urged lawmakers to be “a little kinder and gentler” toward each other following Gillard’s ouster.
With Gillard as leader, the ruling center-left Labor Party had appeared headed for an overwhelming election defeat at the hands of the conservative coalition opposition, but Rudd’s supporters said they now have a chance to win.
“What this fundamentally does is put us in a position where we can win the next election, and no one would have been talking about that even at the beginning of this week,” said Richard Marles, a Rudd supporter who quit as a junior minister in March after an aborted leadership challenge by Rudd.
“We were looking at a very bad defeat. We were not in the contest,” he added.
Gillard had set elections for Sept. 14, though Rudd can now decide to hold them as early as Aug. 3. Rudd on Thursday refused to commit to a date but said “there’s not going to be a huge variation” from Sept. 14.
Rudd has said he will perform with renewed “energy and purpose,” but has yet to spell out what will be different under his leadership. His government remains in a state of confusion, with a Cabinet yet to be named.