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Who is Julia Gillard?

Last month Julia Gillard said there was more chance she would line up at full forward for the Western Bulldogs than topple Kevin Rudd.

Today she has become Australia's first female prime minister.

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While she has been part of Kevin Rudd's inner cabinet, the so-called 'gang of four', Labor strategists backed Ms Gillard to emerge from the carnage surrounding the shelving of the emissions trading scheme, the bungled home insulation scheme and the recent stand-off with mining companies.

When the Opposition pulled its support for Labor's emissions trading scheme and Mr Rudd subsequently deferred action until at least 2013, the polls turned against him.

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Commentators said his credibility and integrity were in tatters.

After the climate backdown, Mr Rudd picked a fight with the miners in early May.

That bout has drowned out all other messages since, so much so that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has steadily risen in the preferred PM stakes.

Watch Channel Seven's expert coverage:

At 2pm AEST: Special Seven News bulletin, with live coverage of Australia's
first female PM handling her first Question Time.

At 430pm: Extended national news bulletin.

At 6pm: Extended bulletin in every state.

Ms Gillard was four years old when her family migrated to Australia from Wales.

As a baby she contracted a lung infection and was in an oxygen tent for weeks, so her parents, Moira and John, decided to move to Australia in the hope that the warmer climate would help their daughter.

In high school, Ms Gillard chose a career as a lawyer and she became involved in university politics during the early 1980s.

She was elected the Member of Lalor in 1998 and became the opposition's spokesman for population and immigration in 2001 under former Labor leader Kim Beazley.

After a three-year stint as opposition health spokeswoman, where Tony Abbott was her direct opponent, Ms Gillard was elected unopposed as opposition deputy leader in 2006.

After Mr Rudd's 2007 election victory, Ms Gillard was appointed Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Education Minister, leading to her being dubbed the "minister for everything".

She is credited for putting an end to the infamous Australian workplace agreements under the former Coalition government's WorkChoices laws.

But Ms Gillard has also faced criticism over the Rudd Government's Building the Education Revolution schools building program, with allegations that contractors were seriously overcharging schools for work done and that some projects were wasteful and unnecessary.

She also came under fire for the Government's My School website, which many teachers and principals said failed to give an accurate indication of schools' performances.