Born on September 21, 1957, Kevin Rudd joined the Australian Labor Party at the age of 15. He took the reins of the party before he was 50, becoming the prime minister of Australia the next year and serving from 2007 to 2010.
Early Years and Political Beginning
Kevin Rudd grew up on a farm in Queensland, Australia. Politically active since a young age, he joined the Australian Labor Party (ALP) when he was just 15. He earned a bachelor's degree in Asian studies at the Australian National University in Canberra before beginning a diplomatic career, which had him posted in embassies in Stockholm and Beijing from 1981 to 1988. He left his Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade post to become chief of staff for Queensland opposition leader Wayne Goss. Rudd retained the position after Goss became premier of Queensland in 1989 and then served as director general of the state cabinet office from 1992 to 1995.
Rising Through the Ranks
Rudd was elected to the Australian House of Representatives in 1998 and was reelected in 2001 and 2004, his stature within the Labor Party growing each year. After the 2001 election, Rudd was appointed shadow minister for foreign affairs (a post held by a member of the opposition party, which would likely lead to the holder being named minister of foreign affairs should his party take office).
Frequently appearing as his party’s spokesperson, Rudd became a vocal critic of the Howard administration’s handling of the Iraq War, and at the ALP caucus held in December 2006, he was chosen party leader.
Ascension to Prime Minister
In 2007, Kevin Rudd raised his political sights and urged Prime Minister Howard to meet him in face-to-face debates, promising his countrymen he would put a fresh new face on Australian politics if elected prime minister. He called for a definitive exit strategy for Australian troops in Iraq and put forth a comprehensive health-care reform plan. In the November 2007 elections, John Howard lost decisively, and Rudd was sworn in as prime minister on December 3, 2007.
Domestically, one of the first items to check off from his list of campaign promises was to formally apologize to Australian aborigines for abuses they suffered in the past, which Rudd did in February 2008. He also made reversing climate change a centerpiece of his administration, pushing for adoption of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS). But when the CPRS got tangled and politicized, and Rudd altered the original intentions of the plan, his party began to turn against him. Other issues caused a leadership spill, and a party vote was set to see who would lead the party and assume the role of prime minister—Rudd or his deputy, Julia Gillard.
At a preliminary meeting, it was clear that Rudd would lose the vote, and he resigned on the spot as both party leader and prime minister, and Julia Gillard became the new prime minister.
Rudd was appointed minister for foreign affairs in the Gillard administration and was sworn in on September 14, 2010. He resigned from this position two years later.
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