Key events in Australia's leadership tussle

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  • Sunday, February 26, 2012
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  • SYDNEY, February 26, 2012 (AFP) - Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the man she deposed in 2010, Kevin Rudd, will face off in a party ballot for the leadership Monday, after months of tension and damaging speculation.
    Here are the key events in their relationship:
    June 23 -- Then deputy prime minister of Australia, Julia Gillard challenges Kevin Rudd to a leadership ballot as his popularity plunges in the polls following a series of policy mis-steps including shelving an emissions trading scheme to tackle climate change and a damaging war of words with the powerful mining industry over tax hikes.
    June 24 -- Gillard goes on to win unopposed, with Rudd declining to contest the ballot. She quickly calls national elections.
    August 21 -- Gillard's Labor party fails to win a majority at elections following an uninspiring campaign hit by high-level leaks, prompting Australia's first electoral deadlock in 70 years.
    September 7 -- Minority lawmakers throw their support behind Gillard after more than a fortnight of tense negotiations, ensuring Labor's return to power with a fragile coalition. Gillard later appoints Rudd, formerly a career diplomat, as foreign minister.
    March 8 -- Gillard's popularity plummets in an influential opinion poll to a record low after she announced plans for a pollution levy, despite pledging there would be no such tax under her government ahead of the election. The move prompts furious protests around the country.
    August 31 -- Australia's High Court strikes down Gillard's refugee swap deal with Malaysia, seen as a solution to the inflammatory issue of boatpeople, forcing Labor to scrap offshore processing and release refugees into the community.
    November 8 -- Labor finally passes its controversial emissions reduction scheme, but fails to make any headway in the polls. Rudd consistently places ahead of Gillard as preferred leader with voters.
    February -- Speculation steadily mounts that Rudd is preparing to challenge Gillard for the top job as Labor continues to haemorrhage in the polls and open divisions emerge within the party over the leadership.
    February 22 -- Rudd resigns as foreign minister in a dramatic early morning press conference in Washington and says he is returning home to consider his future.
    February 23 -- Gillard calls a leadership ballot for Monday, February 27, and says both parties must accept the outcome as final. Rudd earlier declares that Gillard cannot win the next election and he has strong support to return to the top job.
    February 24 -- Rudd confirms he will challenge Gillard to lead Australia's ruling party, saying she had lost voters' trust and would lose the next election. If he loses, Rudd promises to retire to the backbench and not challenge again.


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