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New Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has used his first address to Parliament to call on MPs to be a ''little kinder and gentler with each other''.
Hours after he was sworn by Governor-General Quentin Bryce, Mr Rudd used his first official comments as Prime Minister to acknowledge the contributions of former prime minister Julia Gillard and former treasurer Wayne Swan, while talking of the difficulties of political life.
''As we all know in this place, political life is a very hard life. A very hard life indeed . . . But let us all remember particularly on days like this that in this Parliament and in this place we are all human beings,'' he said.
Neither Ms Gillard nor Mr Swan were present in the chamber to hear Mr Rudd speak.
In a comment reminiscent of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s 2010 call for a ''kinder, gentler polity'', Mr Rudd added: ''So let us try, just try, to be a little kinder and gentler with each other in the further deliberations of this Parliament.''
Mr Abbott also addressed the House on indulgence, first congratulating Mr Rudd.''I congratulate the Prime Minister for returning to the high office which he formerly occupied and which he has been dreaming of returning to for three long years and three long days,'' he said. But in commiserating with Ms Gillard, Mr Abbott did not resist the opportunity to attack Labor's ''faceless men'', calling on the new Prime Minister to explain the events of Wednesday night and bring on an election.
''The former prime minister should have been dealt with by the Australian people at an election, not by the faceless men in the caucus last night,'' he said.
Mr Rudd's return to the top job comes as one of his last-minute backers, Bill Shorten, says he believes Mr Rudd has changed.
Mr Rudd is not expected to make an announcement about the rest of his ministry until tomorrow at the earliest.
It is understood that he has not yet decided about the election date and is now consulting with his colleagues.
What happens now?
Mr Rudd visited Governor-General Quentin Bryce at 9.30am to be sworn in as prime minister. Julia Gillard visited Ms Bryce after the leadership vote on Wednesday night to recommend Mr Rudd be commissioned as Prime Minister.
When will the election be held?
There is broad speculation an election will be held earlier than the September 14 date nominated by Julia Gillard, potentially in August. Ms Gillard had attracted controversy earlier this year by announcing the intended election date, but the writs have not yet been issued so there is nothing stopping Mr Rudd from nominating a different election date.The earliest an election could be held is August 3 to enable an election for the House of Representatives and half of the Senate at the same time, but it could be as late as November. An early election could complicate the local government referendum that was meant to be put to voters at the same time as they went to the polls.
What did the Governor-General do?
Ms Bryce commissioned Mr Rudd to be prime minister. Her official secretary Stephen Brady wrote to Acting Solicitor-General Robert Orr seeking written advice. Mr Orr confirmed Ms Bryce should commission Mr Rudd as Prime Minister and could ask him to tell the House of Representatives about his appointment as quickly as possible so the House could respond.
What happens if there's a no-confidence motion in Parliament?
Because the government does not have a majority in its own right in the House of Representatives, it requires the support of at least five of the seven crossbench MPs. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott could move a no-confidence motion in Parliament on Thursday to test the numbers and potentially force an early election, but said on Thursday morning that he was unlikely to do so.
Does Kevin Rudd have the numbers to withstand a no-confidence motion?
Andrew Wilkie, Craig Thomson and Bob Katter have said they would not support a no-confidence motion while Greens MP Adam Bandt has signalled he is unlikely to do anything to help Mr Abbott. Tony Windsor said he did not think Tony Abbott would move a no-confidence motion and he would consider the contenders' arguments. Peter Slipper has not made his intentions clear but is friendly with Mr Rudd. Rob Oakeshott has said his support for Labor should not be assumed but, like Mr Windsor, has been an advocate of ''stability'' of the Parliament.
KEVIN RUDD: Becomes Labor leader
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Becomes deputy leader
PENNY WONG: Becomes Senate leader
JACINTA COLLINS: Becomes deputy Senate leader
CHRIS BOWEN: Becomes treasurer
ED HUSIC: Tipped for cabinet promotion
JULIA GILLARD: Resigns as PM and will not recontest her seat
WAYNE SWAN: Resigns as deputy PM and treasurer
STEPHEN CONROY: Resigns as communications minister
PETER GARRETT: Resigns as school education minister and will not recontest his seat
JOE LUDWIG: Resigns as agriculture minister
CRAIG EMERSON: Will quit politics and will not recontest his seat
GREG COMBET: Resigns as climate change minister