RUDD FOR PM

By BRAD RICKS

KEVIN Rudd will be Australia's next prime minister, according to Justine Elliot.

Yesterday Mrs Elliot, the voice of the Tweed in Canberra, again backed Mr Rudd on a day that turned out to be one of great political and personal loss for Kim Beazley.

Mr Rudd wrested the party leadership away from Mr Beazley, securing 49 of a possible 88 votes from Federal Labor MPs.

But in a tragic twist for the man known as "bomber", Mr Beazley was told soon after losing the ballot that his 53-year-old brother had passed away in Western Australia.

Mrs Elliot was open about her intentions to support Mr Rudd in an exclusive interview with the Daily News last Saturday.

Yesterday she said Mr Rudd and new deputy leader Julia Gillard represented a positive new direction for Labor.

"I have no doubt that Kevin can be the next prime minister," she said.

"With the decision made we can all move forward now with the one goal of defeating John Howard at the next election."

Mrs Elliot said she voted for Mr Rudd as Labor leader because of his ability to deliver clear policies to voters.

However, she was quick to praise Mr Beazley, saying his contribution to the Labor Party was huge.

"I definitely have a lot of respect for Kim," she said.

"But I think the time was right now for a change of direction."

In his first speech as Labor leader, Mr Rudd hinted at this new direction.

"By the time we get to the next election you will have a clear, comprehensive, alternative policy plan for Australia's future," he said.

"An alternative, not an echo."

In an emotional speech, Mr Beazley said he asked the Labor Party to get behind Kevin Rudd and give him the best chance he possibly can of becoming the next prime minister.

"He (Mr Rudd) will be a very good leader of the Australian Labor Party," he said.

"He will take us to victory at the next election."

Mr Beazley would not comment on his brother's death, however Mr Rudd passed on his condolences.

With the leadership battle out of the way, all that remains is the make-up of Labor's frontbench.

Mr Rudd is expected to announce his shadow ministry on Thursday, but Mrs Elliot says she will not nominate for a position.



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