CANBERRA, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Julia Gillard retained her leadership of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) as well as the prime ministership on Thursday after former leader and prime minister Kevin Rudd chose not to challenge her.
The tumultuous day began when Labor party elder Simon Crean demanded the leadership be put to vote to end the "disunity" which he said was killing the party. He called for Rudd to stand against Gillard and challenge her for the party leadership, while he himself would contest the deputy leader.
Earlier Thursday afternoon, during question time, Gillard declared the leadership spill was on. A Labor caucus was arranged at 4:30 local time and a ballot was supposed to be held to decide the leadership.
However, 10 minutes ahead of the ballot, Rudd, who had kept silent about whether to challenge Gillard, announced he would not stand in the ballot. Crean had to withdraw his own nomination. Gillard and her deputy Wayne Swan entered the meeting room as the only nominees.
At a joint press conference with Swan after the caucus, Gillard said the Labor leadership issue "has been settled and settled in the most conclusive fashion possible."
"The government has a plan for the nation's future. We've got plenty of work to be getting on with it, and we'll be getting on with it in a few minutes' time," she said.
Swan called Gillard a tough leader. "It's pretty fair to say that there was very strong support in the party room for the prime minister today. And that's because this prime minister is a tough leader, and a leader who is a great champion for our country and for the reforms that are required to create future prosperity. And also to spread opportunity around our country."
When the drama was coming to an conclusion, Crean, taking the portfolio of Minister for Regional Affairs and Minister for Art, was sacked by Prime Minister Gillard. Also, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Richard Marles has quit the front bench after supporting Rudd.
Another supporter of Rudd, party whip Joel Fitzgibbon, congratulated the Prime Minister on her victory and said it's now a time for healing. He said he'll be happy to tender his resignation as chief whip if that helps the process. He'll consider his position over the next six weeks.