Mining Tax Cost Aussie PM His Job


"This is the most dramatic leadership change in Australian political history"

Julia Gillard will become Australia's first female prime minister after ousting Kevin Rudd after a slump in his approval ratings and a clash with the resources industry over a mining tax increase.

Gillard will be sworn in at 12:30 p.m. after challenging Rudd for the leadership late last night. Welsh-born Gillard was elected unopposed by Labor party members this morning in Canberra after Rudd, who won office in 2007, withdrew from the ballot.

The change in leadership spurred gains in BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group in Sydney trading on optimism the government will compromise on its mining profit tax. Rudd's support started to crumble in April after he shelved his emissions-trading plan. His rating fell further as the fight over the resources tax intensified, and the spat came to a head over the past 24 hours as colleagues switched their support to Gillard.

"This is the most dramatic leadership change in Australian political history," said Nick Economou of Monash University.

Rudd, who served the shortest term as leader since 1971, said in a news conference today in Canberra that he was proud of his management of the nation's economy and other achievements such as the introduction of school computers, new library construction and proposed changes to healthcare.

"I will serve the government in any manner of assistance," Rudd said, adding that he will contest the next election. Gillard must call a poll by April next year.

Wayne Swan, who with Rudd helped steer Australia's economy through a global financial crisis that plunged most of the world's developed economies into their deepest recessions since WWII, will remain treasurer.

Swan was elected Gillard's deputy after abandoning Rudd. Swan will attend this weekend's G-20 summit in Toronto on Australia's behalf, a spokesman said.

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