UPDATE: Julia Gillard has just been elected as leader of the Labor Party, with Wayne Swan as her Deputy. Both were elected unopposed. Australia now has its very first female PM. Rudd has announced he will re-contest his seat.

Here’s the first round of what the pundits are saying about Gillard getting elected. See further commentary of the Rudd vs. Gillard furore below.

The Australian

Caroline Overington: Julia Gillard’s ascension fulfils feminist dream

Julia Gillard’s ascension to the highest office (under the Governor General, another woman) is the realisation of the great feminist dream.

It’s precisely what our mothers – and Germaine! – hoped would one day happen, as they argued, throughout the 1960s and 1970s, for fundamental changes to the fabric of the nation.

Dennis Shanahan: Rudd does the right thing by Labor

Tony Abbott faces a new challenge in Gillard but the leadership change for Labor is not without enormous pain and danger.


Annabel Crabb: The King is dead, long live the Queen

Kevin Rudd’s influence within Caucus always depended entirely on his popularity outside it.

When the latter collapsed, so did the former – with a savagery that is barely believable.

Niki Savva: Gillard: from zero to Labor Party hero

Given the chance, Julia Gillard will resurrect Labor’s fortunes and will almost certainly go on to win the election.

Christopher Joye: Laying Rudd’s headstone

This was not really about politics. The PM’s political errors were merely visible manifestations of a far deeper and more significant malaise.

At the end of the day, Rudd’s downfall was about leadership in the conventional managerial sense that the owners of small businesses and chief executives understand.

The Age

Josephine Tovey: Gillard’s fruit bowl runneth over

Milestones like a first black president or first female prime minister are never simply fluke events, or just brought about by a hard-working or charismatic individual. They’re the culmination of years of hard work from all those that paved or pushed the way through.

Misha Schubert: Rudd’s long march to doom

Kevin Rudd began the long march to his political end with just a handful of backers.

In the wake of one tumultuous WTF? evening in federal politics comes the leadership showdown few people were expecting, at least not yet: Kevin Rudd versus Julia Gillard for the nation’s top job.

Twitter and the political press went into a frenzy last night following a meeting between the Prime Minister and Gillard. Subsequent appearances from other senior ministers including Lindsay Tanner, Wayne Swan and John Faulkner gave credibility to rumours that a spill was in the works, and official confirmation of the impending bloodbath arrived shortly after 10pm when the Prime Minister fronted the media.

Steely and determined, Rudd announced there would be a leadership ballot come the morn, and that he would subsequently enter the fight of his political life.

Here’s what Crikey’s crack team of writers had to say:

Bernard Keane: Rudd finally meets his match in Julia Gillard – and party powerbrokers

…it appears now that Rudd, who achieved such stratospheric popularity ratings for so long as both Opposition Leader and Prime Minister, has met his match in the feisty redhead from Melbourne whose blunt, authentic style has so strongly appealed to voters while Rudd’s stocks have fallen in recent months.

Guy Rundle: First bid – What was Ruddism?

…it is still possible that Kevin Rudd may survive tomorrow’s spill. But if he does it seems almost certain it will be by no convincing margin. Furthermore, he’ll have to sack Gillard and reshuffle.

Shakira Hussein: #firstfemalepm?

If the ALP elects Julia Gillard tomorrow, it will deprive Muslims of the sanctimonious more-feminist-than-thou line “Well, of course, there have been female leaders of so many Muslim countries – Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia – and Australia is yet to have a female Prime Minister.”

Possum Comitatus: Spill

Kevin Rudd is now toast, as the ALP has no choice but to elect Gillard or they elect Abbott as PM by default at the next election – it is the challenge itself that slits Rudd’s throat, not the actual outcome of the leadership ballot.

And here’s what the rest of the pundits had to say:

The Age

Michael Jordan: First female PM? She’s confident, disciplined – and has no trace of hubris

Julia Gillard has never suffered from a shortfall of self-confidence but, equally, she has never displayed the kind of naked ambition that defined Kevin Rudd before he got the job, either.

Michelle Grattan: Dominoes tumble quickly as polls rule the night

Kevin Rudd’s leadership has been trashed in an extraordinary and unprecedented manner. The man obsessed with control lost control of his government, his party and his prime ministership in a night of wildness.

Shaun Carney: Hell hath no fury like a deputy scorned

Bit by bit during the past two months, Kevin Rudd squandered his authority as Prime Minister. But he could always rely on his deputy, Julia Gillard, to back him ˜ until yesterday, when a newspaper report ripped their relationship apart.

Sydney Morning Herald

Peter Hartcher: Wild burst of anger shears Labor

The federal government now belongs to Julia Gillard. The internal support base for Kevin Rudd’s prime ministership has fractured spectacularly. The Labor caucus is likely to elect her as prime minister today. But even if it does not, the Rudd prime ministership has been fatally damaged by the wild burst of anger that sheared through the party yesterday.

Lenore Taylor:  A tinder-dry mood and the sparks fly

The Labor Party is facing its worst-case scenario, the option its powerbrokers always said was unthinkable. Kevin Rudd is insisting Julia Gillard blast him out, just a few months before a poll. This morning she just could.

Phillip Coorey: The faceless men who conspired to bring down the Prime Minister

Senators David Feeney and Don Farrell are hardly household names but they led the push that threatens to bring down a prime minister.

Mark Davis: Building ambition from the sandpit of politics

As natural and impressive as Julia Gillard’s rise through the political ranks to this morning’s moment of destiny has seemed, it has not always been easy.

The Australian

George Megalogenis: Game over for Kevin Rudd

Kevin Rudd is finished as prime minister. Julia Gillard will surely take his place after tonight’s drama, breaking two records in the one coup. She will be the nation’s first female prime minister.

Peter van Onselen: Going from hero to zero in three years

How did it come to this? Kevin Rudd has gone from hero to zero in less than three years. He was our most popular prime minister in history according to opinion polls yet now he is likely to be defeated just before an election.

The Punch

David Penberthy: Arise Julia Gillard, the Tim Cahill of politics

…if Julia Gillard succeeds in her 11th-hour leadership coup it will be the most inspired last-minute substitution since Timmy Cahill came on in Kaiserslauten against Japan in the 2006 World Cup.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey