Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has refused to confirm an election will be held on the long-proposed date of September 14.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott opened Question Time today by asking the PM to confirm the September 14 election date.

Mr Rudd refused the opportunity, citing the upcoming G20 summit, the local government referendum and Yom Kippur as reasons he could not confirm the date.

Mr Rudd said he reserved his right to announce a date until he had a chance to consult his new cabinet.

The Prime Minister said there were only a few dates on which an election could be held, and there would not be any 'huge variation' in current plans.

Mr Abbott then asked Mr Rudd to explain how he came to be PM last night, and why Australians were 'denied a chance' to choose their own PM.

Mr Rudd pointed out that in his time as leader of the ALP, he has faced four different leaders in former Prime Minister Howard, Brendan Nelson, Malcolm Turnbull and now Tony Abbott.

The leadership is a matter of internal party debate, Mr Rudd said, "Now let's get on with talking about the nation's future".

GILLARD REDUCED TO TEARS

Outgoing independent MP Rob Oakeshott has brought Julia Gillard to tears in a moving address to parliament.

Mr Oakeshott said that ten minutes before the party room ballot that saw Kevin Rudd resume leadership of the Labor party, he contacted Ms Gillard.

"I hope you got my text," he said before requesting her permission to discuss the contents of the message.

Ms Gillard nodded.

"Your father would be proud of you," Mr Oakeshott said, tearing up.

He was met with applause from the chamber and public gallery.

Ms Gillard appeared noticeably teary as the member for Lyne continued to commend her on the work she achieved during her prime ministership.

“I’m a father of daughters and I am very proud of her.”

Of particular significance was Ms Gillard's commitment to the independents to pass legislation of benefit to regional Australia through parliament.


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MASS EXODUS FROM POLITICS

Defence Minister Stephen Smith is the latest Labor MP to announce his resignation from politics, revealing he will not recontest the upcoming federal election.

"Twenty years is a long time for any member of parliament. Six years is a long time on the executive, but this may be something only Western Australians can understand," he said.

"I cannot in all good conscience say to the people of Perth that I can continue to do, win lose or draw at the next election for another three years. Twenty years I can do, 23 years I can't."

Mr Smith has said he will remain in the Defence portfolio until the upcoming election, the date of which is yet to be confirmed.

Smith is the seventh Labor frontbencher to resign since the party's leadership spill.


GILLARD TAKES SEAT ON BACK BENCH

Julia Gillard has entered parliament as a backbencher for the first time since 2001.

The former PM entered the chamber today to watch departing Independent MP Rob Oakeshott make his valedictory speech before retiring from politics.

Ms Gillard walked into parliament with her held high, waving to fellow MPs and sharing a kiss with former Speaker Peter Slipper.

Mr Oakeshott accidentally referred to Ms Gillard as 'Prime Minister' during his speech, before correcting himself and simply calling her 'Julia'.

In his speech, the Member for Lyne said he was proud to have been part of Australia's 43rd parliament, which he said achieved great things for the nation.

"I think it has been an enriching experience to be part of it. I hope the convenient rhetoric doesn't kill the reality," he said.

Mr Oakeshott said everything he had laid out in his infamous 17-minute speech in which he backed Julia Gillard as PM has now been achieved.

"I own that 17 minutes for the work contained within it," he said. "I leave optimistic and I leave confident."


Former PM Gillard on the backbench. Photo: AAP

PM RUDD ADDRESSES PARLIAMENT

Kevin Rudd has made his first address to parliament after being sworn in as Australia's Prime Minister by Governor General Quentin Bryce earlier this morning.

Mr Rudd began the parliamentary day by addressing the parliament, informing the House he has been commissioned as Prime Minister, as well as Anthony Albanese as Deputy PM and Chris Bowen as Treasurer.

Acknowledging the brutality of politics, Mr Rudd expressed hope that his leadership can bring about a new paradigm in Canberra.

"Let us try, try .. and be a little kinder and gentler to each other in the deliberations of this parliament," he told the House.

The PM went on to pay respects to the contributions of his predecessor, Julia Gillard, and former Treasurer Wayne Swan.

Mr Rudd praised Ms Gillard and Mr Swan for their significant legislative achievements in minority government.

He cited the passage of the Fair Work Act, a price on carbon and education reforms as the former Prime Minister's great legacies.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott congratulated the PM on returning to office, saying Mr Rudd had been dreaming of this for "three long years and three long days."

Mr Abbott offered his condolences to Ms Gillard for the way she had been dumped by her party, saying she "should have been dealt with by the Australian people".

Mr Abbott asked, 'if Ms Gillard's achievements are so significant "why was she dragged down last night?"

"The Prime Minister owes the Australian people an explanation," he said. This is a fraught moment in the life of our nation. A prime minister has been dragged down."

Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott greet each other in parliament. Photo: AAP

RUDD SWORN IN AS PM
Earlier, Mr Rudd arrived at Yarralumla with wife Therese Rein at 9.30 AEST this morning, just over three years since he advised the Governor General to withdraw his commission as PM.

He was sworn in alongside new Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and new Treasurer, Chris Bowen.

The rest of Mr Rudd's cabinet is expected to be sworn in as early as tomorrow.

With the official ceremonies over for now, Mr Rudd says he wants to hit the ground running to right some of the perceived wrongs of the Gillard government - and he has quite a lot of work to do.

Business, the opposition and the public want to know if the September 14 election day still stands, and what support his minority government will have.

Mr Rudd has told reporters he and his new deputy Anthony Albanese will be briefed in the next few days on the budget and the economic outlook and on a range of other international matters.

He could face his first parliamentary test later today, if the opposition moves a motion of no confidence in the minority government.

Should that happen, he is likely to get support from crossbenchers Andrew Wilkie, Peter Slipper, Craig Thomson, Bob Katter and Adam Bandt.

Mr Rudd will also have to convince voters he is the man for the job, having gone back on his promise not to return to the leadership under any circumstances.

The Liberal party has launched a new advertisement campaign quoting Mr Rudd's "broken" promise not to contest the leadership.

Team Gillard takes its place on the back bench. Photo: AAP

RUDD RE-TAKES LEADERSHIP
Mr Rudd won a party-room ballot last night by a margin of 57-45. Anthony Albanese was elected deputy leader after facing off with Labor elder and Rudd backer Simon Crean.

The ballot was the culmination of a three-year internal war within the Labor party, after Ms Gillard toppled Mr Rudd for the leadership in June 2010.

It was Mr Rudd's third attempt to re-take the top job, after an unsuccessful coup in February 2012 and an aborted leadership tilt in March this year.

Julia Gillard later visited Governor-General Quentin Bryce to ask her to commission Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister after losing the Labor leadership.

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THE NEGATIVITY MUST STOP
In addressing the media, new PM-elect Rudd said the negativity and destructive politics at the federal level must stop.

Mr Rudd said politics in recent times had "failed the Australian people" and he was driven by a need to secure the nation's future.

"I simply do not have it in my nature to stand idly by and allow an Abbott government to come to power in this country by default," he said.

"I recognise that Mr Abbott is a man steeped in the power of negative politics and he is formidable at negative politics.

"But I see no evidence of a real positive plan for our country's future."

Mr Rudd also thanked outgoing treasurer Wayne Swan for his contribution to the government.

He said he had worked "intimately" with Mr Swan in 2008-2009 to prevent the country from rolling into the global economic recession.

"So Wayne, whatever our differences have been, I acknowledge that contribution here as part of that team which kept us out of global catastrophe," Mr Rudd said.

New Labor deputy leader Anthony Albanese said he had a big job to do.

"I will do it with enthusiasm, passion and commitment and give my all for the cause of Labor," he said, standing side by side with Mr Rudd.

"It is only Labor governments, I believe, that can truly serve the long term interests of the nation."

Mr Albanese said on Wednesday night the party had maximised its chances of going into a third term of a Labor government.

He paid tribute to Ms Gillard and Mr Swan for their achievements and for their efforts in ensuring Labor was able to govern since the hung parliament in 2010.

Mr Rudd issued a call to Australia's youth, many of whom he said had shunned an interest in the nation's political system.

"I understand why you've switched off, it's hardly a surprise," he said.

"But I want to ask you to please come back and

listen afresh.

"We need you, we need your energy, we need your ideas, we need your enthusiasm and we need you to support us in the great challenges which lie ahead for the country.

"And with your energy, we can start cooking with gas."

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd with his granddaughter Josephine and Governor General Quentin Bryce. Photo: AAP

GILLARD CONCEDES DEFEAT
Julia Gillard was stoic as she addressed the media following her defeat, and declared she would remain true to her word and resign from politics.

"I announce that I will not re-contest the federal electorate of Lalor in the forthcoming electorate," she said.

Ms Gillard listed the carbon tax, the Royal Commission into child sexual assault in institutional settings, and Australia's strengthened foreign ties as her greatest achievements.

She congratulated Kevin Rudd and thanked her Labor colleagues for their support throughout her leadership.

"I understand that at the caucus meeting today the pressure finally got too great for many of my colleagues, I respect that and I respect the decisions they made," she said.

"I have had loyal and capable colleagues and I want to thank them for their dedication and determination."

Gillard urged the Labor party to continue to victory in the forthcoming election.

"I also say to my colleagues that will best be done by us putting the division of the past behind us and uniting as a political party, making sure we put our best face forward in the forthcoming election campaign and in the years to come."

"Don't lack the guts, don't lack the fortitude, don't lack the resilience to go out there with labor agenda & win this election."

The Prime Minister received a round of applause from reporters as she left the room.

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LABOR DIVIDED
The make-up of the new Rudd government's front bench is unclear, with several current Ministers saying they will not serve under him.

Mr Rudd has indicated he will make peace with any currently serving Ministers who are willing to stay on in their positions - but the victory has already triggered a cabinet bloodbath.

However, senior ministers including Deputy PM Wayne Swan, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and Climate Change Minister Greg Combet has resigned from cabinet.

Gillard loyalists Craig Emerson and Joe Ludwig have also moved to the back bench, with more resignations to come.

Former Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has taken on the Treasury portfolio.

Exiled MPs and Rudd backers such as Joel Fitzgibbon, Martin Ferguson and Kim Carr are all expected to re-join the cabinet.

RUDD'S BROKEN PROMISE
Mr Rudd admits he has broken his promise that he would only challenge Ms Gillard if he had the overwhelming support of his caucus colleagues.

Speaking earlier to confirm his candidacy, Mr Rudd said he was duty-bound to challenge in order to save Labor from an impending 'catastrophic defeat' at the September election.

"I do not seek to fudge the fact that I have changed my position. I'll leave it to you, the good people of Australia to judge whether I have made the right call." he said.

But Mr Rudd said he could not stand idly by and allow Opposition Leader Tony Abbott become Prime Minister unchallenged.

"[The Australian people] are genuinely fearful of what Mr Abbott could do to them if he’s elected," he said.

"People are afraid, they are very afraid that they’ll try to do it again under a different name. But no one forgets work choices.

"And the truth is if were all perfectly honest here, is that we're on course for a catastrophic defeat, unless there is change.

"I'm seeking to respond to your call that I've heard from so many of you to do what I can to prevent Mr Abbott from becoming Prime Minister."

Mr Rudd was forced to challenge after Julia Gillard earlier called his bluff, declaring she would call a spill for the leadership positions of the party.

GILLARD FORCED TO CALL SPILL
Ms Gillard's decision came after a day of destabilisation, including reports Rudd-aligned MPs were circulating a petition, calling on her to hold a special caucus meeting to sort out the leadership issue.

Ms Gillard admitted she had not seen a petition calling on her to resign, but was calling a spill anyway in order to bring the issue to a head.

"I've been joking with my colleagues that this is the political equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster", she told Sky News.

Citing her key achievements as PM, including the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Gonski education reforms and environmental policies, Ms Gillard was adamant she was the best person to lead Labor.

"What has also driven me in politics, and will continue to drive me, is getting things done", she said.

"I have never been diverted from that task and achieving big things the country needs."

Ms Gillard's defeat means she will exit politics at the next election, which was a self-imposed condition when she called today's spill.

Kevin Rudd overlooked by Julia Gillard in the Labor caucus room. Photo: AAP

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