Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Prime Minister Julia Gillard Chris Ison

Gillard grieving after dad's death

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard will spend at least the next few days at her family's home in Adelaide following the death of her father John on Saturday.

Ms Gillard left the APEC leaders summit in Russia early on Sunday to be with her grieving mother Moira and sister Alison.

Treasurer Wayne Swan, who will remain acting prime minister in Ms Gillard's absence, told reporters in Brisbane the Prime Minister had a "really close relationship with her dad", who was 83.

"She was really proud of him and he was really proud of her," Mr Swan said.

"He taught her the values that she's lived by all her life.

"It's a very sad passing for the family.

"I know many Australians are thinking of Julia and her mum and her sister at this sad time, and our thoughts are certainly with the Gillard family."

Mr Swan said he expected Ms Gillard to return to Canberra later in the week.

Parliament resumes from a two-week break on Monday.

Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin, who joined Mr Swan in Brisbane, was among a number of senior Labor ministers to express sympathy for their grieving leader.

"It doesn't matter whether you're the prime minister or anyone else, when you lose your dad it's very, very hard times," Ms Macklin said.

In a statement issued from Russia on Saturday Ms Gillard said she would miss her father "for the rest of my life".

She said although John had been battling illness for some time, his death had still come as a shock.

"My father was my inspiration. He taught me that nothing comes without hard work and demonstrated to me what hard work meant as a shift worker with two jobs," Ms Gillard said.

"He taught me to be passionate about fairness. He taught me to believe in Labor and in trade unionism.

"But above all, he taught me to love learning and to understand its power to change lives.

"He always regretted his family background meant he had not proceeded on to higher education as a young man.

"He was determined that I had the opportunities he was denied."

John grew up in a Welsh coal mining village and left school at the age of 14.

In 1966 he migrated to Australia, where he studied to become a psychiatric nurse and in Ms Gillard's words "lived a long and full life".

Leaders attending the APEC summit were quick to pass on their condolences to Ms Gillard.In a brief statement

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott extended the Coalition's "sincere condolences" to Ms Gillard and her family.

"The thoughts of all Australians will be with the Prime Minister, Mrs Moira Gillard and their family at this difficult time," Mr Abbott said.

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