Gillard, Julia Eileen (gĭˈlärd) [key], 1961–, Australian political leader, b. Barry, Wales, B.A., LL.B. Univ. of Melbourne 1986. Gillard, who immigrated to Australia with her parents as a young child for health reasons, was active in Labor politics as a college student and worked in industrial law after graduating. From 1996 to 1998 she was an opposition political staff chief in Victoria state. First elected to parliament's lower house in 1998, she served in opposition shadow cabinets from 2001. Allying with Kevin Rudd, she was elected deputy party leader when he won the leadership post in 2006. She served as deputy prime minister and minister for employment and workplace relations, for education, and for social inclusion after the Australian Labor party's victory in 2007. When Prime Minister Rudd suffered a dramatic loss in popularity in 2010, Gillard, aligned with Labor's left wing, challenged him for the party leadership. After he chose to step aside, she succeeded him as prime minister, becoming Australia's first woman prime minister. When she called an early election later in 2010 the Liberal-National coalition won a plurality of seats, but Labor remained in office with the support of independents. She fended off leadership challenges from Rudd in 2012–13 before losing to him in June, 2013, and did not stand for reelection Sept., 2013.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.