Death of father brings PM home

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard has cut short her involvement in the APEC summit in Russia and is on her way home after the death of her father.

Miss Gillard (pictured) said the death of her father John at the age of 83 came as a shock despite the fact that she was aware that he had been battling an illness for some time.

Mr Gillard died in Adelaide. The cause of death is not yet known.

Ms Gillard's office confirmed that she was returning to her family home in Adelaide.

The Prime Minister issued a formal statement, saying her father had lived a "long and full life".

"He was brought up in a coal mining village and left school at 14, but transcended these humble beginnings to become a man with a love of ideas, political debate and poetry," she said

Ms Gillard had been due to attend the opening session of APEC but did not appear.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told the conference Ms Gillard's father had died and she was returning to Australia. She will be represented by the Minister for Trade, Craig Emerson, for the remainder of the meeting.

John Gillard, a psychiatric nurse, moved his young family from Wales to Australia in 1966 for the sake of the young Julia's bronchial health.

He and his wife, Moira, settled in Adelaide and the Prime Minister liked to refer to them as "ten pound Poms". They were favourites with reporters who they used to invite into their home and offer tea and biscuits during election campaigns.

"I'm proud of my daughter all the time," Mr Gillard said. "The English language doesn't contain enough words - awesome, great, fantastic, tremendous, it is all of those multiplied by 10."

Ms Gillard credited her parents with instilling in her the values of hard work, straight talking and decency.

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