WINNER: A smiling Kevin Rudd leaves the caucus meeting last night.
WINNER: A smiling Kevin Rudd leaves the caucus meeting last night. AAP

Ipswich would support my "tough" decision, says Neumann

THE Labor Party has dramatically deposed its second sitting Prime Minister in three years.

Dogged by internal rifts within the party for her entire prime ministership, Julia Gillard lost a caucus ballot 57-45 to Kevin Rudd last night - three years and three days after Mr Rudd was deposed.

The move may trigger a potential constitutional crisis with Mr Rudd's leadership likely to be tested in the House today.

Independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, who both announced their retirements at the coming election, said they could not guarantee their support if Ms Gillard lost the leadership.

However, independents Bob Katter and Andrew Wilkie have both indicated they will vote for the government in any test of confidence.

Attention will now turn to the federal election date.

Reports last night indicated Mr Rudd would bring the election forward to late August.

Following the spill, Blair MP Shayne Neumann told The Queensland Times he had shifted his vote to Mr Rudd along with key powerbroker Bill Shorten.

He said he'd made the "tough" decision to give the Labor Party the best chance to defeat the Coalition.

"Every poll showed we were in diabolical difficulties," he said.

"I believe Kevin had the best chance of winning. He's got great campaign experience from 2007.

"I wanted to make sure everything we achieved over the last six years won't be for nothing."

He said he hadn't made the decision lightly, but believed it was what the people of Ipswich wanted him to do.

"It was a very tough decision. It's hard. I do pay tribute to Julia; she's been a tough leader.

"I have no doubt the overwhelming number of people in the Ipswich region would support the decision I've made."

Despite his previous support for Ms Gillard, Mr Neumann said he had a long working relationship with Mr Rudd and respected him as a politician.

MP for Oxley Bernie Ripoll voted for Ms Gillard.

Prior to the spill, Mr Ripoll said he wanted whoever lost to resign from politics to enable Labor to heal its internal wounds.

"It ought to be accepted that the outcome is the end of it," he told The QT.

Following her defeat last night, Ms Gillard confirmed she would stand down as an MP at the election.

Fighting back to tears, she insisted her gender had played a part in the difficulties she faced.

"The reaction to becoming the first female prime minister doesn't explain everything about my prime ministership," she said.

"Nor does it explain nothing. It explains something."

Following a lengthy caucus meeting, Rudd loyalist Anthony Albanese was elected Deputy Leader, defeating Simon Crean 61-38.

He replaced Rudd critic and key Gillard supporter Wayne Swan.

Penny Wong will replace Stephen Conroy as Leader in the Senate after she was elected unopposed.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet and Trade Minister Craig Emerson announced in statements they were resigning from the Cabinet.

Mr Emerson will not contest the next election.

It is unknown what Bill Shorten's role might be in the Rudd government, after he sensationally announced before the meeting he would be backing Mr Rudd.

A key factional leader, Mr Shorten was instrumental in Mr Rudd's original demise and the elevation of Ms Gillard.

The political clear-out could open new doors for former ministers Chris Bowen, Martin Ferguson and Joel Fitzgibbon, as well as more junior Rudd supporters Janelle Saffin, Justine Elliot and Ed Husic.

Mr Rudd's return to the leadership capped maybe the most extraordinary day in the life of one of the most extraordinary parliaments in Australian political history.

Speaking after Ms Gillard called a 7pm spill, the Member for Griffith said the government was on course for a "catastrophic defeat" at the next election.

In accepting Ms Gillard's challenge, Mr Rudd predicted the Coalition was on track to win the election by "the biggest landslide since Federation" if he were not returned.

LNP candidate for Blair Teresa Harding said she didn't believe a change of leadership would alter her chances of being elected.

"When I go out there and talk to people they tell me they are sick to death of Labor," she said

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