Kevin Rudd has won the ALP leadership ballot and is now expected to be sworn in as Prime Minister -- again -- tomorrow. Julia Gillard will resign from politics. Crikey's Bernard Keane and Andrew Crook are filing regular reports from Canberra as we amass the breaking news from social media, online news outlets, radio and TV ... 9.40pm Julia Gillard's car has now entered the Governor-General's house to tender her resignation. Kevin Rudd is not expected to speak until tomorrow morning. Therefore, after over 7000 words of this liveblog, we're signing off for this evening and going to pour ourselves a rather large gin and tonic. Check back here tomorrow morning as we hold your hand through this new (old?) political frontier. 9.35pm Former deputy prime minister and treasurer Wayne Swan -- a long-term Gillard supporter -- is now paying tribute to his former leader. "She [Julia Gillard] is one of the toughest warriors that ever led the Australian Labor Party," he said. "There’s been 20 leaders of the Australian Labor Party ... and she is indeed one of the toughest of those," said Swan. "I think she has done more as a politician for our country in three years than any politician could ever hope to achieve." "It indeed has been a privilege to serve with her as both her deputy and as Treasurer," said Swan. He also noted the difficulty of working with a hung parliament. "It brings with it its own challenges, both social and economic, but it sure as hell beats the alternative," said Swan. He noted that he would be recontesting the seat of Lilley in the next federal election. "I’m proudly the member for Lilley, and I do intend to recontest the election as Labor’s candidate." 9.25pm Gillard is commenting on her role as the first female prime minister of Australia. "The reaction to being the first female prime minister doesn't explain everything about my prime ministership nor does it explain nothing about my prime ministership." "There’s been a lot of analysis about the so-called gender wars, that I was playing the so-called gender card, because heavens knows no one knew I was a woman before I raised it," said Gillard. "It doesn’t explain everything, it doesn’t explain nothing, it explains some things, and it is for the nation to think in a sophisticated way about those shades of grey. What I am absolutely confident of is it will be easier for the next woman and the woman after that and the woman after that, and I am proud of that." It is while noting her pride at being the first female prime minister and that it will become easier for future female prime ministers that Gillard became slightly emotional. Gillard ended her speech -- she took no questions, as was pre-warned -- but mentioning her family. "I would like to thank Tim, and my family, and I would like to say, as I’ve already said to my niece, who is due to have a baby in July -- look forward to the most meddlesome great aunt in Australia’s history." 9.20pm Gillard also commented on the aspects of her prime ministership which she is most proud. "I am confident that I leave the prime ministership having strengthened our relationship with our major partners, every one of them," said Gillard. "We have strengthened both our alliance with the United States while taking a major stride forward in our relationship with China. "I also believe that the work we have done in Afghanistan is something to be proud of... one of the things that most delighted me as prime minister and before that as deputy prime minister is getting to know our Defence personnel." She also noted the military cost that Australia has suffered in the last three years. "I have, either as Prime Minister or acting prime minister, attended 24 funerals ... I am very aware of the courage and sacrifice." Gillard also spoke of the strength of her colleagues support and her understanding that she was voted out. "My colleagues have through this journey provided me with great support," said Gillard. "When all of those that read polls and do the commentary were saying that there was only one logical conclusion, and that was to change the leader, my colleagues showed courage, they showed determination, they showed spine." "I understand that at the caucus meeting today the pressure finally got too great for many of my colleagues, and I respect that," said Gillard. "Don’t lack the guts, don’t lack the fortitude to go out there and win this Labor election. "I also say to my caucus colleagues that that will best be done by putting the divisions of the past behind us and uniting as a political party." 9.15pm Julia Gillard has arrived for her press conference.  
JG. pic.twitter.com/92WnSnyaPG — Andrew Crook (@andrewjcrook) June 26, 2013
  "As you would probably be aware by now Kevin Rudd has been elected as leader of the federal parliamentary Labor Party." "I congratulate Mr Rudd on his election. In view of his election I have written to the Governor-General asking her to commission Rudd as Prime Minister of Australia." "In accordance with a pledge I made earlier today I announce I will not contest the federal electorate of Lalor... In the coming weeks I will say hello and goodbye to the community that I've had the absolute privilege of representing since 1998." "Three years ago I had the very great honour of being elected as Labor leader," she said. This privilege was truly humbling. I thank the Australian Labor Party for that privilege, and I thank the Australian people for that privilege." Gillard also noted the privilege of being the first female prime minister of Australia. "I am pleased that in this environment, which wasn't easy, I have prevailed to ensure that this country is made stronger, smarter and fairer for the future," said Gillard. "I am very proud of what this government has achieved which will endure for the long-term." "I am very proud that we have achieved health reform... I'm very pleased that we pushed through and put a price on carbon, an historic reform. I'm very proud of what we have achieved through DisabilityCare." "I am very proud too in the work we have done in Australian schools," said Gillard, noting that the "great Labor mission" of the Gonksi reforms must be continued. "I am very proud too of the work that we have done in Australian schools. Today we passed the legislation which means 60% of schoolchildren are covered by Labor reforms." Gillard has long noted that education is her most passionate topic, adding: "It has been the defining passion of my life that every Australian child … gets the opportunity for the great education that they should have." "I’m also very proud of the royal commission. It will change the nation, it will change individual lives ... we will learn how to better protect our children in the future". 9.10pm Greg Combet has resigned from his position as climate change minister, with his statement announcing:
"I congratulate Kevin Rudd on his election as Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party in a caucus ballot tonight. "I have been on the public record calling for Labor’s leadership issue to be resolved once and for all before Parliament rises, so we can unite in the lead up to this year’s federal election campaign." "Accordingly I welcome the resolution of the leadership of the Labor Party. "It is now important that Mr Rudd has a clear opportunity to argue Labor’s case and to appoint his own team to take up the fight to Tony Abbott. "It is well known that I have been a strong supporter of Julia Gillard. "In the circumstances, I believe it is appropriate that I resign from my position as Minister for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation. "This is the right thing to do."
As we reported earlier, Andrew Wilkie will support Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister and will not vote for a no confidence movement if the Coalition moves one tomorrow:
"I have written to Kevin Rudd indicating that I will provide him confidence in the House of Representatives in the event that her Excellency the Governor-General commissions him as Prime Minister. It’s not my business to takes sides in the Labor Party leadership. But I’ve come to the conclusion that the public interest is best served by a smooth transition to the new Prime Minister. So I will not support any no-confidence motion in the Government or in the Prime Minister simply on the basis of this leadership change. A federal election is scheduled for 14 September. Certainty, and the public interest, is not served by a no-confidence vote undoubtedly leading to a snap House of Representatives election. An election before 3 August would necessitate a subsequent half-Senate election within 12 months at an additional cost to the Australia taxpayer of $150m. I hope my cross-bench colleagues move quickly to state their positions on tonight’s developments because it’s not in the national interest to now have a long period of uncertainty."
Meanwhile, ABC journalist Lyndal Curtis reports that former deputy prime minister Wayne Swan will also speak this evening:  
Wayne Swan will speak after Julia Gillard — Lyndal Curtis (@lyndalcurtis) June 26, 2013
  9.07pm Gillard's office is now reporting her presser will be held at 9.15pm. Sky News says that Gillard is currently having commiseration drinks with her staff and top supporters. 9.02pm Julia Gillard is to give a press conference in Parliament House's blue room shortly. Stay tuned ... Meanwhile, Minister for Tertiary Education and Trade (amongst a host of other portfolios) Craig Emerson is not just leaving the front bench but will quit politics entirely and won't contest the next election. His statement reads:
"Tonight I am resigning my Ministerial positions and will not contest the 2013 Federal Election. "It has been a wonderful privilege to have been a Cabinet Minister in the Gillard Labor government. "Julia Gillard has been a great reforming Prime Minister in the great Labor tradition. I owe her a big debt of gratitude for putting her confidence in me and entrusting me with responsibilities that are so important to Australia’s future. ... I wish Kevin Rudd and his team all the very best, and I will do whatever I can to ensure the re-election of the Labor government."
9pm ABC journalist Naomi Woodley says Rudd won't speak this evening, which seems an odd move for our PM-in-waiting.  
Kevin Rudd's office says he's not going to be making any further public comment tonight. — Naomi Woodley (@naomiwoodley) June 26, 2013
  Climate Change Minister Greg Combet has just released a statement announcing his resignation from the front bench. 8.50pm Returning officer Chris Hayes has just announced more updates to the leadership of the Labor Party. Anthony Albanese is now deputy prime minister after beating former Arts Minister in a ballot 61-38. Finance Minister Penny Wong was elected unanimously to leader of the Senate. Jacinta Collins is now deputy leader of the Senate. The Labor MPs -- including Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd -- have just filed out of the party room but made no comment to the awaiting media pack. 8.40pm The return of Rudd as prime minister raises some legal quandaries for the Governor-General. News Limited is reporting that GG Quentin Bryce is busy seeking top legal advice, with Gillard expected to head to Government House this evening to resign.
"News Limited has learned that Quentin Bryce was waiting to meet with the Acting Solicitor-General to discuss the constitutional impact of the leadership change before agreeing to commission Mr Rudd."
8.35pm Wilkie may be backing a Rudd government, but Independent MP Rob Oakeshott -- who announced today that he will not contest his seat of Lyne at the next election -- is not promising to support a Rudd government. As Fairfax reporter Judith Ireland reports:  
Rob Oakeshott's office say he won't have a formal position on confidence/ Rudd this evening. Earlier this week he said: "assume nothing" — Judith Ireland (@CanberraCamper) June 26, 2013
  8.30pm NT Senator Trish Crossin, who gave her valedictory speech this week and is being replaced by "captain's pick" Nova Peris, has justupdated her Facebook page offering her support for Kevin Rudd's return to the prime ministership.
"Labor is back on track. It's a Ruddy Future with strong #leadership. No more #spill issues and on track to serve Australia and keep Abbott out of the Lodge."
8.20pm Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie has announced his support for Kevin Rudd. "I have written to Kevin Rudd indicating that I will provide him confidence in the House of Representatives in the event that the Governor-General commissions him as Prime Minister." Plus, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has sent his congratulations to Rudd.
"I enjoyed a close working relationship with Kevin Rudd in his past roles as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and I look forward to that continuing. "I would also like to acknowledge Julia Gillard’s commitment to the trans-Tasman relationship during her time as Prime Minister."
While several frontbenchers are offering their resignations -- including Peter Garrett, Joe Ludwig and Chris Emerson -- Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus won't be giving up his new job:  
Attorney General Mark Dreyfus WON'T be resigning Cabinet. He says its an honour to serve in a Labor Government whomever is leader. — Latika Bourke (@latikambourke) June 26, 2013
  8.12pm An interesting observation from Crikey's Matthew Knott:  
A curio: neither Julia Gillard nor Kevin Rudd has been defeated at an election #spill — Matthew Knott (@KnottMatthew) June 26, 2013
  8.05pm Let's just remember that Julia Gillard, our first female prime minister, is to resign from politics following this leadership vote. Penny Wong will now be leader of the Senate following Stephen Conroy's resignation. It seems Rudd supporters Simon Crean and Anthony Albanese are fighting it out for the position of deputy prime minister:  
Contest underway between Crean and Albanese for deputy. — James Massola (@jamesmassola) June 26, 2013
  Ged Kearney has just confirmed she will not contend the Lalor byelection. 7.55pm Returning officer Chris Hayes says there was no talk about the proposed election date. Both Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd spoke before the vote was held. He described the mood in the room as "sombre". "I think most people are happy that the issue of the leadership is behind us so the party can concentrate on preparing for the September election," said Hayes. "Any of these challenges I think are pretty emotional, they’re all human beings." Sky News is now reporting that Wayne Swan has quit as deputy PM and Stephen Conroy has resigned as leader of Senate. Joe Ludwig and Craifg Emerson have apparently resigned as ministers. 7.52pm ALP returning officer Chris Hayes has just confirmed that Kevin Rudd is again Labor leader and will be sworn in as Prime Minister. Rudd beat Julia Gillard in the ballot 57-45 votes. "I can announce the result. It is Kevin Rudd 57 votes, Julia Gillard 45 votes. There was no spill for the deputy," said Hayes. 7.50pm Two journalists are now reporting from sources within the caucus that Kevin Rudd has won the ballot 57-45.  
Rudd wins 57 45 — Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) June 26, 2013
   
KEVIN'S Back! Rudd defeats Gillard in ballot 57 - 45 @dailytelegraph #auspol — simon benson (@simonbenson) June 26, 2013
  7.43pm Voting is over, prepare for the result to soon arrive.  
Labor MP text: voting is finished. — James Massola (@jamesmassola) June 26, 2013
  7.38pm Voting is continuing, slowly slowly. As Financial Review journalist James Massola just tweeted:  
Labor MP text: Still voting 2 by 2, very slow. About 20 to go. — James Massola (@jamesmassola) June 26, 2013
  Once the vote has been finished and read out, party elder Dick Adams will announce the result to the awaiting media pack. We then expect speeches from both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard -- plus, of course, a speech from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. Meanwhile, the Coalition will apparently have their own caucus meeting tonight.  
Coalition has called a partyroom meeting for 8pm, according to two Liberal Sources. — Latika Bourke (@latikambourke) June 26, 2013
  7.28pm Vote is only now underway. News Limited journalist Lanai Scarr is tweeting updates from sources within the party room:  
Gillard camp says the PMs demeanour is not sad. "No way," a source said. — Lanai Scarr (Vasek) (@pollietracker) June 26, 2013
   
From inside the caucus about Gillard: "She looks relaxed, people just chatting as wait to vote". — Lanai Scarr (Vasek) (@pollietracker) June 26, 2013
  Popular MP Anthony Albanese is expected to be deputy prime minister if Kevin Rudd is elected as suspected. Sky News is reporting that Ged Kearney, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, may stand for Gillard's seat of Lalor if Gillard loses and steps aside. 7.20pm What we're hearing (from nearly every media outlet in the country): Kevin Rudd has won the ballot and an election is now likely for August 24. To clarify, Rudd will become the leader of the Labor Party and will then have to approach the Governor-General tomorrow in order to become the Prime Minister. Parliament will sit tomorrow, the last sitting day before the winter recess. That will be the last parliamentary day before Australia goes to the polls. Rudd was due to fly to China at 1pm tomorrow, however that now seems unlikely. 7.15pm A couple of media outlets -- Sky News and News.com.au -- are announcing that Kevin Rudd has won the leadership ballot and is now leader of the Labor Party. 7.10pm It's time for Sky News' David Speers to start getting texts from MPs within the caucus meeting! Speers reports that a source from the Gillard camp says Julia Gillard does not have the numbers and expects to lose the ballot. Still awaiting actual confirmation of this news ... 7.05pm Since Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd will put their names forward for the leadership ballot, they both have the opportunity to address caucus and plead their case. While we wait for those speeches and the vote to occur, let's take a look at our recent Power Index series which profiled the people who will help decide the next federal election. Who are Tony Abbott’s and Julia Gillard’s campaign directors? Andrew Crook profiles the campaign directors  as he profiles the people who will influence this election. Crikey’s Andrew Crook finds out the powers behind the thrones -- these are the political fixers. After the knitting debacle, how will John McTernan spin the leadership spill? Andrew Crook profiles the spinners. Will the unions back Rudd? These are the union heavies who are pouring cash into this election. Rudd might have the numbers, but who do the corporate lobbyists want? The Power Index profiles the corporate lobbyists shaping our election. Who made this ad We profile the ad creatives  who decide what we will see and hear in this election. Does Rudd or Gillard have backers with deeper pockets? Crikey deputy editor Cathy Alexander profiled the moneybags who fund our pollies. Lot of talking heads on TV now. The Power Index profiled the TV news directors who decide who gets what airtime. What will the Hun and The Tele say tomorrow morning? The Power Index has profiled the editors of our nation’s tabloids as part of our series on the people who will decide this election -- whenever it may be. According to the polls, Rudd will do better at an election than Gillard. But who are the pollsters and where do they get their info? We profiled them as part of a Power Index series on our election deciders. 7pm As we await the Labor MPs to vote on the leadership -- with it now seeming likely that Kevin Rudd will win, following Bill Shorten announcing he will back him -- Bernard Keane offers up comment on Shorten's support:
"Bill Shorten's shift in support to the man whose replacement he engineered in 2010 spells the end of the Gillard Prime Ministership. In effect, what Shorten helped deliver to her three years ago, almost to the day, he has now taken away with a dramatic defection that should secure a healthy Rudd majority. The question is - was it Shorten's shift that prompted the Rudd camp to move this morning, or has he merely recognised the reality of the numbers facing the Prime Minister?"
6.57pm Julia Gillard has just arrived for the vote flanked by her loyal supporters Joe Ludwig, Kate Lundy, Brendan O'Connor, Nicola Roxon, Andrew Leigh, Kate Ellis, Craig Emerson, Sharon Grierson, Peter Garrett and Michael Danby. Kevin Rudd arrived alone -- wearing a blue tie. 6.55pm Dick Adams, the Labor MP from Tasmania, is carrying the wooden ballot box in to the party room in anticipation of the vote in five minutes. Labor MPs are spilling in for the vote. 6.50pm One expects the champagne is being popped by the IPA tonight:  
Wonder how the IPA's cocktail party in Parly private dining rooms is going #spill — Andrew Crook (@andrewjcrook) June 26, 2013
  6.40pm Bill Shorten will back Kevin Rudd in tonight's ALP leadership ballot. "The Australian Labor movement is a cause that I believe in passionately ," said Shorten. "I believe this government has delivered once-in-a-generation reforms in very difficult circumstances." "I believe that Tony Abbott and his conservative Coalition represent a once-in-a-generation risk." "I have carefully considered my position. I have now come to the view that Labor stands the best chance of defending the legacies of this government ... with Kevin Rudd as our leader. "I understand that this position may come with a heavy personal cost to myself." "The future of this nation and the Labor Party is at stake here, and therefore I am supporting Kevin Rudd." "I believe that Kevin Rudd leading us to this election will provide Australians, my colleagues and those who have supported us with the best chance." "Even amongst my friends, there will be people who don't support what I've just announced." "I will serve and support enthusiastically whoever is selected as leader of the Labor Party tonight." "The best interest of the Australian nation – and the Labor Party – must come first, not debates about factions and personalities." 6.37pm Labor MP Bill Shorten has declared he will support Kevin Rudd in the 7pm leadership ballot, likely sealing that Kevin Rudd will be prime minister of Australia by the end of this evening. Here's an image from Shorten's press conference.  
pic.twitter.com/r64zRfxeGd — Andrew Crook (@andrewjcrook) June 26, 2013
  6.35pm As we await Bill Shorten's press conference, ABC's Latika Bourke says that Shorten is about to support Kevin Rudd.  
Source believes Bill Shorten has indeed switched to Kevin Rudd. Huge if that is his announcement. #ruddmentum — Latika Bourke (@latikambourke) June 26, 2013
  Sky News journalists are reporting the same rumours. This will be huge news if he supports Rudd at this critical point. 6.32pm If you're wondering if Julia Gillard is still the Prime Minister, just keep checking this website. Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph says that Kevin Rudd would hold an election in August. 6.30pm Confirming our earlier report that Andrew Leigh will back Gillard. He's been on Radio National talking to Waleed Aly: "She has incredible emotional intelligence." 6.28pm This is crucial: Bill Shorten is due to hold a press conference within minutes. The cameras are there. We're watching ... 6.27pm Gillard supporters have been vocal in the media and on Twitter, but Rudd's army has been quiet. Finally, someone has gone on the record backing the former PM. Backbencher Janelle Saffin was just on ABC News 24 offering her support:
"He's clearly the best leader for our nation and for the parliamentary Labor Party."
6.23pm Former Rudd press secretary Lachlan Harris was just on 2GB in Sydney with his thoughts. Our friends at iSentia report:
"He says all of the indications are that Gillard is less confident today than she was at the last leadership spill. He says Rudd's announcement to challenge was an election pitch, not a leadership pitch. He says this shows Rudd is incredibly confident that he does have the numbers. He says MPs like Jason Clare and David Bradbury have been quiet on this issue, signalling they are likely to have shifted to Rudd supporters. He says the silence of the Labor backbenchers is indicative of where the support it is. He says Gillard is much better at these challenges than Rudd. He says he won't go back to work with Rudd."
6.18pm Gillard supporters are declaring the Prime Minister has the numbers.  
Confident that @JuliaGillard has support of caucus — Brendan O'Connor (@BOConnorMP) June 26, 2013
  6.16pm Crikey's Andrew Crook has just pointed out that if there is a tie in the leadership ballot of 51-51, caucus rules demand that the winner is deciding by drawing a name out of a hat. Which would surely make Australia the laughing stock of the world and put Parliament in a very precarious position. 6.15pm After Julia Gillard went to Sky News political editor David Speers to announce she would spill the leadership positions of the party, Kevin Rudd held a press conference in Parliament House soon after 5pm to announce he'd run. His full statement -- via Sky News -- is here: 6.13pm Wayne Swan is continuing to publicly back the PM loudly and proudly.  
In all my yrs in politics, I’ve never met anyone with a Labor heart like @juliagillard’s. Hers is a true Labor Govt driven by Labor values. — Wayne Swan (@SwannyDPM) June 26, 2013
  6.12pm Former speaker Harry Jenkins gave his valedictory speech this week (read the whole speech here), but it seems that current speaker Anna Burke is keeping her cards close to her chest.  
Speaker Anna Burke's office hung up on me when I asked if she will be voting in tonight's caucus ballot. #Ruddmentum — Latika Bourke (@latikambourke) June 26, 2013
  6.09pm It seems all sides are rather sure that they can win. As Sky News David Lipson's tweeted:  
Both Gillard and Rudd camps confident of numbers. — David Lipson (@lipporocks) June 26, 2013
  6.05pm As we wait for the 7pm ballot, let's take a look at some of Crikey's coverage in the last week in anticipation of the a leadership spill. Read Bernard Keane on Labor’s dysfunction -- a change of leadership is not going to fix the deeper problems. If Rudd is chosen as leader tonight, what will his frontbench look like? Andrew Crook gazed into the crystal ball on June 20. Can Kevin Rudd even become prime minister tonight? Constitutional lawyer Anne Twomey looks at the law. 6.00pm This just in from Andrew Crook:
"A Lalor preselection will likely occur very soon if Gillard loses. It will be very interesting to see whether David Feeney withdraws from Batman to contests the PM's seat. Could be selected by National Executive this close to polling day. "A Rudd resignation will play very well for Liberal National Party candidate Dr Bill Glasson in Griffith. ALP could be facing loss of all lower house Queensland seats. "A landslide could also mean Labor wins just one Senate seat in Queensland, leaving three federal Labor MPs in the whole state. Outside possibility but a real one."
5.54pm Meanwhile, some Labor MPs are busy saving their skin with it now seeming likely that Kevin Rudd will win the 7pm leadership ballot tonight. As Australian Financial Review journalist James Massola just tweeted:  
Labor MP Graham Perrett tells AFR he will not resign if Kevin Rudd wins the ballot. He warned in 2011 ahead of the first challenge he would. — James Massola (@jamesmassola) June 26, 2013
  5.52pm We're loath to play into the opportunistic marketing of a betting company, but Betfair has quickly framed a market on the candidates. Rudd is a clear short-priced favourite:
  • Kevin Rudd: $1.25
  • Julia Gillard: $5.20
  • Bill Shorten: $95
  • Stephen Smith: $360
  • Greg Combet: $220
  • Wayne Swan: $500
And Betfair has compiled a graph of the betting movement over the last 24 hours: 5.50pm Julie Owens, who represents the seat of Parramatta, confirmed her support for Julia Gillard, replying "yes" when asked if she supports the PM. 5.48pm Conflicting reports coming in from Canberra. One very senior Gillard figure says "Rudd is lying" about numbers, while one of the Rudd camp's hardest heads is confident Rudd has it won. Crikey's Bernard Keane adds: "I put more store in that than in the numbers appearing in the media currently." Meanwhile, national political editor for news.com.au Malcolm Farr says the so-called petition that was going around parliament today, and which kicked the leadership battle off this afternoon, had no names attached to it.  
This leadership ballot petition said to be going around. Apparently it didn't go around, because it had no names on it. — Malcolm Farr (@farrm51) June 26, 2013
  5.44pm Add another one to the Gillard camp, with the federal member for Oxley, Bernie Ripoll, declaring his support for Gillard on ABC News 24. "One hundred per cent, I’m backing Julia Gillard. I’m sticking with the Prime Minister," he said. 5.42pm Interesting that Rudd mentioned that the Coalition was on track for a majority in the Senate. Crikey covered this today. Outside possibility but a real one. Also very important to note that if Kevin Rudd is voted in and becomes PM he will become the first Australian PM to support gay marriage. 5.40pm Respected Australian Financial Review political editor Laura Tingle says that Kevin Rudd has the numbers to win tonight.  
Rudd camp says it has 55 to 60 votes and growing — Laura Tingle (@latingle) June 26, 2013
  Sky News journalists are also reporting that Rudd has at least 55 certain votes and will win. Meanwhile, Deputy PM and Treasurer Wayne Swan is publicly backing Gillard:  
.@JuliaGillard is the toughest person I know – she’s a remarkable PM who I know will beat Tony Abbott on Sept 14 — Wayne Swan (@SwannyDPM) June 26, 2013
  5.37pm An update from Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane:
"The Rudd camp is now in full swing seeking to use the media to try to engineer a bandwagon effect, claiming they have the numbers and they are growing. Clearly they remain hopeful of achieving the sort of strong endorsement that Rudd always wanted. Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives chamber, Tony Windsor has been giving a fascinating valedictory speech. A huge day in politics - Oakeshott, Windsor and one of Rudd or Gillard to finish their career."
5.36pm And in other news, Tony Windsor has just paid tribute to Crikey cartoonist First Dog on the Moon is his valedictory speech and says he bows down to him on every regard. 5.35pm Nice pic from the Kevin Rudd presser held just a few minutes ago:  
#spill pic.twitter.com/EBPF8CJZ7g — Andrew Crook (@andrewjcrook) June 26, 2013
  5.32pm More in from Crikey's Andrew Crook, who is in Canberra this week, and doing the numbers on the leadership vote:
"It is interesting to look at an actual list of caucus members here. Two weeks ago Crikey had the numbers at 56 Gillard, 46 Rudd. This requires 6 MPs to change sides for a Rudd win. The biggest disaster for the Rudd camp is if Gillard wins by 1 or 2 votes. It would confirm Kevin, even with NSW General Secretary Sam Dastyari's help, still can't count." "Whatever happens, this will play well for Bill Shorten. Both Rudd and Gillard will probably lose at the election, whenever it's held. Shorten keeps his powder dry and sails into the leadership after the poll."
5.28pm Andrew Crook is on the phones asking how MPs will vote. Those who were with Gillard at the last spill and say they remain in her camp include:
  • Glenn Sterle
  • Joe Ludwig
  • Mike Symon
  • Bernie Ripoll
  • Andrew Leigh
  • Warren Snowdon ("Thank you for asking and yes of course I support the PM.")
5.22pm Bernard Keane reports from Canberra:
Kevin Rudd has reversed his previous refusal to challenge Julia Gillard and will contest tonight's Labor leadership ballot. Rudd cited demands from his colleagues and from voters to stand and the need to prevent a "catastrophic" Labor defeat that would deliver power to Tony Abbott to return to WorkChoices and launch an austerity drive. Importantly, Rudd accepted Julia Gillard's condition that he agree to leave politics if he loses after she had made the same undertaking, turning tonight's ballot into a deathmatch from which there will be only one survivor. Rudd said he accepted full responsibility for his change of heart from his previous uncaveated and regularly-repeated refusal to challenge the Prime Minister, saying in effect too many people had called on him to stand and the stakes at the coming in election were too high.
5.20pm Rudd says if he does not win the leadership ballot tonight, he will not stand for the seat of Griffith at the next election. Rudd says he won't deny his previous position: he has changed his mind from past statements that said he would only accept the leadership if the party approached him. "I do not seek to fudge the fact that I’ve changed my position, I’ve simply given you the reasons today that I have done so. I accept full responsibility for my previous positions on the leadership," he said. He acknowledges the frontbenchers -- including Peter Garrett and Stephen Conroy -- who have said they will not serve on the front bench of a Rudd government again. "For those who believe they cannot serve, I wish them well and thank them for their service," said Rudd. "If I win this ballot, every effort I have in my being will be given to uniting the Australian Labor Party. No payback." If Rudd is not chosen he says Abbott will win in biggest landslide since federation. He finished the press conference his infamous "I've gotta zip" line. 5.18pm More from Kevin Rudd's presser announcing he will stand as a prime ministerial candidate:
"The truth is, if we’re all being perfectly honest about it right now is that we are on course for a catastrophic defeat unless there is a change. "The truth is many many MPs have requested me for a long long time to contest the leadership of the party because of the parlous circumstances we face." "I believe that all Australians, no matter their politics, want a real choice in this election. At present, they don’t feel as if they’ve got one, and they are frustrated that we are denying them one." "Australians want a real policy debate." "I believe that what the nation needs now is strong, formidable leadership." "What literally thousands of Australians have said to me over the past year is they are fearful of what Mr Abbott would do if elected. Particularly if elected with a huge majority."
Rudd also spoke of the strong importance of China in the role in Australia's economy.
"Diversification and productivity are no longer important for Australia, they are essential for Australia." "It is time for proven economic national Australian leadership."
5.13pm "Today I am announcing that I will be a candidate for the position of the leader of the federal Labor Party. MPs have requested me for a long, long time to contest the leadership of the party," said Rudd. "It's time for this matter to be resolved," said Rudd. "... Tens of thousands of ordinary Australians from the general public who have been asking me to do this for a very long time ... it's those voices that have had a huge effect on me." Rudd says he will stand in order to keep Tony Abbott from becoming prime minister. "No one forgets WorkChoices." 5.12pm Kevin Rudd has just confirmed he will stand as a candidate for the Labor leadership in tonight's ballot. 5.11pm Graham Richardson is tipping that Anthony Albanese would take over as deputy PM if Kevin Rudd wins. Current deputy PM Wayne Swan would also expect to lose his role as Treasurer. 5.10pm This photo just in from Crikey journalist Andrew Crook, as journalists wait for the Kevin Rudd press conference to begin:  
Tense Rudd presser! #spill pic.twitter.com/kKMgaxdjSq — Andrew Crook (@andrewjcrook) June 26, 2013
  5.08pm Former Global Mail and ABC journalist Jess Hill is live tweeting Tony Windsor's valedictory speech, as he pays tribute to the PM:  
Live tweeting @TonyWindsorMP's speech. "There's never been an occasion where I've felt that you (the PM) have tried to welch on any deals." — Jess Hill (@jessradio) June 26, 2013
  5.05pm Another update from Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane:
"Julia Gillard was due to speak at the centrepiece of "Minerals Week" tonight, the Minerals Industry Parliamentary Dinner. She will now have another engagement, with Kevin Rudd. The return of Rudd, who famously championed the mining tax and was removed with the help of polling partly paid for by the mining industry, would be the mining industry's nightmare. "We can't be seen to dance on Rudd's grave," Minerals Council chairman Mitch Hooke told a secret phone hook-up with industry leaders the morning after Rudd was knifed. It remains to be seen how much dancing there'll be at the mining industry party tonight."
5.04pm Just to reiterate the very strong point made by Gillard in her interview with David Speers this afternoon, she called on any challenger in the leadership ballot -- including herself -- should abide by two conditions:
"If you win, you're Labor leader. If you lose, you retire from politics."
This really is a political career death match. 5pm Bernard Keane writes that Gillard has cleverly wedged Rudd by calling a ballot so quickly:
After a day of rumour and speculation that the Rudd camp was circulating a petition to call a leadership ballot, Julia Gillard has again responded swiftly to efforts to unseat her, calling a leadership ballot for 7pm tonight and demanding the loser leave politics. The move dramatically lifts the stakes for the Labor leadership contest, leaving the Rudd camp with less time to muster the necessary 52 votes to replace the Prime Minister and effectively wedging Kevin Rudd: he must stand or risk alienating his supporters within Caucus, and he must agree to Gillard's conditions or be accused of being the egomaniac many of his critics claim he is. To fail to agree to Gillard's high-stakes conditions will forever mark Rudd as a political coward and permanently damage him. The original Rudd camp plan appeared to be -- according to unsourced media reports -- to call for a leadership ballot tomorrow morning, after securing the 35 signatures necessary to call on a ballot. The petition itself proved an elusive creature this afternoon, even as reports spread that it was being circulated, with MPs in both camps saying they hadn't seen it. After an impressive question time performance from frontbenchers, the Prime Minister repeated her response to the Simon Crean ballot call in March and called on a spill earlier than expected and demanded it bring to an end this three-year leadership saga. In effect, Gillard has transformed this ballot into a death-match. There will be a winner and a loser, but only one survivor. Julia Gillard has proved a powerful, canny and ruthless contender in leadership contests since 2010. Many MPs will be wondering why she couldn't display the same remarkable traits in her context with the real enemy, Tony Abbott.
4.56pm ABC journalist Sabra Lane has just tweeted news regarding Kevin Rudd:  
KRudd to speak shortly; expected he will nominate for the ballot. He is choosing the caucus room to make his statement. — Sabra Lane (@SabraLane) June 26, 2013
  Rudd is expected to address the media at around 5pm (so any minute now!). 4.55pm Meanwhile, independent MP Tony Windsor -- who held the balance of power during the hung parliament and announced today that he would not be contesting the next election -- is currently giving his valedictory speech in Parliament. You can watch a live feed of his speech here. Julia Gillard is apparently in the House listening to Windsor's farewell speech. 4.50pm Well that was quick -- the Liberal Party has already released an attack ad on Kevin Rudd. Seems they are assuming he'll soon be prime minister again.
4.48pm ABC journalist Latika Bourke adds someone else to the list of Kevin Rudd supporters.  
Labor Senator Mark Furner tells me he's supporting Kevin Rudd and is 'very strongly encouraging the Former Prime Minister to run tonight. — Latika Bourke (@latikambourke) June 26, 2013
  Let's take a look back at June 12, when Crikey counted up all the numbers from both Rudd and Gillard's camps. As Andrew Crook reported then:
ALP members in the House are split 39-32 (see our full table here) in favour of Gillard, and Labor members of the Senate 17-14. In the Senate, every sitting NSW Labor Senator would appear to now back Rudd.
4.45pm Labor MP for Melbourne Ports Michael Danby just told Sky News that he will be supporting Julia Gillard and appeals to Kevin Rudd to retire from politics if he loses. Says he would make a great ambassador to China. 4.40pm Crikey's Bernard Keane sums up the mood.  
less a leadership ballot than leadership cagematch. two go in, one comes out. — Bernard Keane (@BernardKeane) June 26, 2013
  4.35pm Fairfax reporter Jonathan Swan is reporting that Kevin Rudd will stand in the ballot.  
A Labor source close to Rudd confirmed he has said he will run tonight. — Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) June 26, 2013
  4.30pm MP Kate Lundy has announced her support for the Prime Minister:  
I will be supporting @JuliaGillard. Proudly. Again. — Kate Lundy (@KateLundy) June 26, 2013
  4:25pm Prime Minister Julia Gillard has just announced that a leadership ballot for the Labor Party will be held at 7pm this evening. In an interview with David Speers on Sky News Gillard said that she hopes to win the ballot and will leave the Parliament if she does not win. "Tonight is the moment for caucus to decide. I accept that so fundamentally that if I am not successful I will resign at the next election. I ask the same of any challenger," said Gillard. Kevin Rudd is yet to announce whether he will challenge for the leadership. Rumours have been circulating all afternoon that a petition has been going around Parliament House with MPs calling on Gillard to allow a leadership ballot. Gillard says she has not seen the petition. "I’ve been wryly joking with some of my colleagues this petition is the political equivalent of the Loch Ness monster... I’ve got an obligation to the nation, we are talking about who leads the nation, I am not going to let that speculation run endlessly." "This is the moment for Caucus to decide. I accept that outcome," said Gillard. "I'll let my caucus colleagues decide. What has always driven me in politics and will continue to drive me ... is getting things done in the accordance of Labor values for a Labor purpose," said the Prime Minister. "I accept responsibility for my own conduct but people need to accept responsibility for their conduct... what I can tell you as prime minister and Labor leader is I have never been diverted from that task.