Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd quits politics

  • 13 November 2013
  • From the section Asia
Media captionKevin Rudd: "Time for me to zip!"

Former Australian leader Kevin Rudd has announced his retirement from politics.

In an emotional speech, the former Labor Party leader said he had not arrived at the decision lightly.

But Mr Rudd, who served as prime minister twice, attributed the decision to his family and said it had been an honour to lead the nation.

Mr Rudd led Labor into the 7 September general election which saw the Liberal-National coalition of Tony Abbott elected.

In a speech to parliament on Wednesday night, Mr Rudd said his decision had "been the product of much soul-searching" with his family "over the last few months".

"But for me, my family is everything, always has been, always will be, which is why I will not be continuing as a member of this parliament beyond this week," he said.

Mr Rudd, 56, also wished Mr Abbott well, saying that being prime minister "was the hardest job in the land".

He added that despite "hurtful" statements that had been made, he bore no-one any malice. "Life is far too short for that," Mr Rudd said.

Mr Rudd said his future plans included establishing a "national apology foundation", in connection with his apology to indigenous Australians, which he said was one of his biggest achievements as prime minister.

He also said he intended to remain active in the international community, in areas that included global economic governance, China and climate change.

He ended his speech by saying: "On this final occasion in the parliament and as is now officially recorded in the classics for occasions such as this, it really is time for me to zip."

'Big figure'

Mr Rudd first became prime minister in 2007 and proved popular with the public.

But amid controversies over a shelved emissions-trading scheme and an unpopular mining tax, his party - key factions of which were said to dislike him deeply - moved against him, and he was ousted by his deputy, Julia Gillard.

But that move triggered a backlash and Mr Rudd remained popular with voters.

In June 2013, with a general election looming and support for Labor plummeting, he won a leadership challenge against Ms Gillard and became prime minister weeks before the polls.

But the months of bitter infighting had cost the Labor Party support and his government lost the election.

After the polls, he faced calls from within his party to step down, drawing a permanent line under the previous turmoil.

Mr Abbott paid tribute to Mr Rudd, describing him as "one of the big figures in this parliament" and a leading figure in Australian public life "over the best part of two decades".

He added he was confident that "one way or another he will continue to serve our country".

More on this story