An emotional Kevin Rudd has bowed out as Prime Minister.
‘I was elected by the Australian people as Prime Minister to bring back the fair go’ he said.
‘I’m proud of the fact that had we not done so, we would have had half a million Australians out there out of work.’
At times pausing for long periods to regain his composure, the deposed leader listed the areas he was proud of.
Ridding the nation of Work Choices, building the nation’s infrastructure, starting the education revolution, and health reform – ‘this will be seen as a very, very deep reform’ he said.
‘I’m proud of the fact we’re on track to halve homelessness in this country’
“I can’t stand it when you go to places and there is literally no place at the inn’, Rudd said.
He said he was proud of boosting the renewable energy target, and expressed regret at not getting the emissions trading scheme through parliament.
“It must be our ambition to pass a carbon pollution reduction scheme within this parliament’, he said.”
‘I’m most proud of the fact that about here, we greeted the stolen generation.’
Rudd then paused to regain his composure once more.
‘As Therese reminded me, that was a big day.’
‘I’m less proud of the fact I have not blubbered’, he joked.
He said he leaves Australia a fairer place than it had ever been.
He thanked the Australian people, and said he will be contesting the next election amongst ‘the good burgers of Griffith.’
Rudd goes without a fight
Earlier, Rudd stood down as leader of the Labor Party.
He was tipped from the top job after a challenge from Julia Gillard, his former deputy, and a realisation he did not have the numbers to win.
John Faulkner, Defence Minister and a veteran member of the ALP, walked with the Prime Minister making casual conversation after Rudd conceded.
The PM flashed the occasional smile at the surrounding press pack.
But many of them, like the Labor Party, had rushed off to follow new PM Julia Gillard.
“He’s smiling but he must be absolutely devastated”, SBS’s Chief Political Correspondent Karen Middleton said.
Rudd’s popularity had fallen dramatically since tipping John Howard from power in 2007.