Julia Gillard makes national apology over forced adoption policy, as she survives leadership challenge

 

Julia Gillard remains Australia's prime minister after she threw her job open to a leadership ballot but no one was willing to run against her.

Her predecessor Kevin Rudd, who she ousted in an internal party coup in 2010, had been expected to attempt to replace her.

But at the last moment he announced he would not contest the ballot yesterday.

Senior minister Simon Crean had earlier brought leadership unrest to a head by calling on his government colleagues to sign a petition to force a ballot if Ms Gillard refused to call one.

The Labour party faces the growing prospect of a sound election defeat on September 14.

Ms Gillard announced the ballot for her job, and that of Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan, on the last day of parliament before a seven-week break.

"I have determined that there will be a ballot for the leadership and deputy leadership of the Labour Party," she told parliament.

Mr Crean - a former Labour leader who is now Minister for the Arts, Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government - said he wanted to be deputy leader and called on Mr Rudd to challenge for the top post.

Part of Mr Rudd's appeal is opinion polling that shows he would be a far more popular choice of the public.

He led Labour to victory at elections in 2007 before being deposed, and challenged Ms Gillard last year and was roundly defeated in a ballot of Labour politicians.

"Kevin Rudd in my view has no alternative but to stand for the leadership," Mr Crean said.

However, Mr Rudd took a different view, and Ms Gillard was elected unopposed, although possibly weakened.

The day's dramatic events came after Ms Gillard delivered a historic national apology in parliament to the thousands of unwed mothers who were forced by government policies to give up their babies for adoption over several decades.

More than 800 people, many of them in tears, heard the apology and responded with a standing ovation.

"Today this parliament on behalf of the Australian people takes responsibility and apologises for the policies and practices that forced the separation of mothers from their babies, which created a lifelong legacy of pain and suffering," she told the audience.

"We acknowledge the profound effects of these policies and practices on fathers and we recognise the hurt these actions caused to brothers and sisters, grandparents, partners and extended family members.

"We deplore the shameful practices that denied you, the mothers, your fundamental rights and responsibilities to love and care for your children."

Ms Gillard committed 5 million Australian dollars (£3.3m) to support services for affected families and to help biological families reunite.

A national apology was recommended a year ago by a senate committee that investigated the impacts of the now-discredited policies.

Unwed mothers were pressured, deceived and threatened into giving up their babies from the Second World War until the early 1970s so they could be adopted by married couples, which was perceived to be in the children's best interests, the senate committee report found.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas