Julia Gillard was today sworn in as Australia’s first elected woman prime minister, will be at the helm of a fragile coalition government after her ruling Labour lost majority in the knife-edge August 21 polls following the ouster of her predecessor in a party revolt.
She was joined at the ceremony by her partner Tim Mathieson and some of her frontbench colleagues, including Treasurer Wayne Swan and his wife Kim.
Gillard, who was sworn in for the second time for the top post in less than three months after she deposed Rudd in June, signed a document and swore allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II.
Rudd’s sudden and spectacular downfall made him the first Labour prime minister to be dumped from office before completing a first term. Voters had lost faith in him after a series of bungles and backflips, including the shelving of the emissions trading scheme.
However, today Gillard was sworn in as the first elected woman Prime Minister following the August 21 cliffhanger polls in which her party failed to secure simple majority in 150-member House of Representatives resulting in the first hung Parliament since 1943.
She has managed to retain power with the support of Greens and independent MPs.
Gillard’s cabinet includes Rudd, who is the new foreign minister, her deputy and treasurer Wayne Swan and former pop star Peter Garrett, who switches from environment to education. Former foreign minister Stephen Smith will now be the defence minister.
There are 19 cabinet ministers, 10 ministers and 12 Parliamentary Secretaries in the new government.
The wafer-thin majority of one seat in Parliament will force Gillard to negotiate issue-by-issue with the opposition Liberals led by Tony Abbott, according to analysts.