Australian premier wins leadership ballot

Melbourne: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard today emphatically won the Labor leadership ballot, handing her arch-rival Kevin Rudd a resounding defeat by 71 votes to 31.

With the win in the 103-member caucus, the country`s first female prime minister ended Rudd`s hopes of returning as premier any time before the General Elections next year, the Herald Sun reported.

It is the biggest win in a Labor leadership ballot in 30 years. Announcing the result, returning officer Chris Hayes said: "Julia Gillard has won the ballot 71 votes to 31."

Hayes said Rudd had made it clear he would now unite behind Gillard. "I think the Prime Minister`s now been shown the overwhelming support of Caucus," Hayes said.

"… He made it very clear to Caucus that depending on what the result was he was happy to support and work towards a unified Labor team."

In a three-minute speech before the vote, Gillard spoke of her government`s achievements over the past 18 months and mapped out her plan for the future before the vote, he said.

In a press conference in Washington on Wednesday, Rudd had resigned from his post as foreign minister.

Gillard had ousted Rudd as prime minster in June 2010.