Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Monday said the ''political drama'' was over after surviving a leadership challenge from Kevin Rudd, and vowed to re-focus on winning the next election.
The nation's first female prime minister retained office after crushing the former leader 71-31 in a secret ballot of the 103 Labor parliamentarians, although only 102 votes were cast with one member absent. It was among the biggest-ever wins in a Labor leadership ballot after one of the most spiteful campaigns in recent history, says Manila Bulletin.
In a victory news conference, Gillard said the battle in the Labor party had been "ugly" and that Australians were fed up with the political brawl, but promised her government would now unite and put voters first, adding she was convinced Labor could win the next election due by mid-2013.
"Today I want to say to Australians... the leadership question is now determined," said Gillard, who won the vote 71 to 31, ending former foreign minister Rudd's hopes of returning as prime minister before the next election, according to Reuters.
Gillard called for the leadership ballot to confirm her authority after simmering leadership tensions that have destabilized the government for months. She would have had an additional vote, but one of her supporters had recently given birth and was absent for the ballot. Rudd supporters had argued that Gillard is unelectable, while Gillard supporters said Rudd had shown himself to be an ineffective leader before Gillard deposed him in 2010 in an internal party coup.
Gillard's Cabinet reshuffle, made necessary by Rudd's resignation, is her first major step in healing the rift. She declined to comment on the fate of the Cabinet ministers who publicly supported Rudd, reports Boston.com.
Senator David Feeney, one of those involved in the 2010 coup, said he would not following Senator Arbib's action.
"I'm not here to announce my retirement, I'm afraid to say," he told ABC Television on Monday.
"I am genuinely saddened by the announcement today, it has come as a surprise and an unhappy one."
Ms Gillard said Senator Arbib's resignation would be received "with a heavy heart".
"Mark worked with me during the days of the global financial crisis and was passionate about making sure young people didn't bear the brunt of this economic turbulence," she said.
Senior Left faction member Anthony Albanese said Senator Arbib had always put the interests of the party before his own interests and as general secretary of the NSW ALP had been a "formidable campaign strategist", informs Ninemsn.