Yesterday was a landmark day in Australian politics by anybody’s definition, with the induction of Australia’s first female Prime Minister and the ousting of a man who rescued the Labor party from more than a decade in the political wilderness.

There was blubbering from an assassinated leader, strong words from a revitalized government and an opposition leader who argued the faces at the top may change but the policies remain the same.

What to think of yesterday’s tumultuous events, and how to go about rationalising them? Here’s what the commentariat said.

The Australian

Dennis Shanahan: Puppet tag and past errors loom for leader

It’s all very well to say the government lost its way – or went off the track – but it’s difficult to sustain the argument that it was all Rudd’s fault if Gillard was one of the drivers in the engine room.

Patricia Karvelas: A stab right from the heartland

Gillard’s numbers men knew they had the numbers even before they started counting them late on Wednesday night – there were so many MPs who feld disenfranchised by Rudd and his office that they were rushing to sign up to her camp.

Tom Dusevic: This is utilitarian, old-school politics

What no one could have missed over 24 hours of tumult in Canberra is that Julia Gillard is as ruthless as anyone who has come through the discreet side entrance at Yarralumla for an appointment with the Governor-General.

The Age

Michelle Grattan: Harshest of reality checks

Kevin Rudd’s demise marks a historic shift in Australian politics. A Labor prime minister has been dumped in his first term. A woman has won the nation’s top job for the first time.

Anne Summers: Historic moment, but barriers remain for half the population

Julia Gillard may have played down the significance of her sex when she became Australia’s first female prime minister yesterday, saying she ”did not set out to crash my head against any glass ceilings” and pointing out that she was also the first redhead to lead the country. But there is no denying this moment of history.

Tony Wright: A last, long, wrenching goodbye

Such a long walk, the one to the gallows. Kevin Rudd, hands in pockets, Labor Party elder and keeper of the last rites John Faulkner at his side, tried hard to affect blithe nonchalance.

Chris Wallace: Being a first isn’t enough – we need good government

…the dramatic circumstances of her elevation contain vital lessons for both sides of politics, and for voters interested in good government. Both these things demand reflection if true value is to be wrung from Kevin Rudd’s fall

Sydney Morning Herald

David Marr: The bustling politician who mastered everything but people

Rudd looked different close up. So many who worked around him came to loathe the man. His energy and resilience were phenomenal. So were his temper and relentless self-belief.

Peter Hartcher: Julia Keneally? PM must avoid being factional puppet

Rudd was entirely electable, and no clear case was made against him by anyone in Labor. One day he was the elected prime minister, the next he was gone, a tearful backbencher.

Jessica Irvine: We want to be led, not simply instructed to follow

Rudd’s greatest weakness was his lack of a political heartbeat and the oratory skills needed to sell to an increasingly confused public the need for the challenging economic reforms crafted by his technocracy.

Lenore Taylor: Leadership switch leaves Abbott’s plans in disarray

Tony Abbott put a brave face on Labor’s last-ditch leadership change but privately the Coalition was desperately disappointed that it would not face an election against Kevin Rudd.

The Herald Sun

Terry McCrann: Firm, confident, in control – Julia Gillard is the real deal

…if you needed any proof that the party had made the right decision, you got it as soon as Julia Gillard started speaking. Firm, confident, immediately, if genuinely humbly, in control.

Andrew Bolt: A perfect start for new PM Julia Gillard

Rudd had performed so many backflips that he could not risk one more. But within hours of taking his job, Gillard offered miners the true negotiations Rudd dared not, and seemed not weak but consensual.

New Matilda

Catriona Menzies-Pike: Is This How You Smash A Glass Ceiling?

Since the spill started spilling, Gillard’s gender has been at the centre of discussion. Indeed, if all the talk about glass ceilings being smashed in Canberra is true, there are some very serious health and safety concerns around Parliament House.

Ben Eltham: Julia Gillard Takes Power

Julia Gillard is our new Prime Minister: the first woman to hold the highest office in the land. A nation founded by predominantly male settlers finally has a woman leading it. But can she lead Labor to re-election?

The Punch

Tory Maguire: Why Julia Gillard is no Kristina Keneally

For starters, Julia Gillard has a chance of winning the election, Kristina Keneally does not. Keneally was a sacrificial lamb, Gillard is not.

The Drum

Helen Razer: Feminists hail Gillard in a greeting card gush

A colony founded in masculinity, Australia can still feel like the land that feminism forgot.

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

Lionised by the public, viewed with suspicion by his colleagues, Kevin Rudd was for more than two years the beneficiary of the principle that if it ain’t broke, one shouldn’t fix it. But when things broke, the end came for Kevin Rudd with incredible speed.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey