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Australia's First Female Prime Minister Forced Out of Office

Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images(CANBERRA, Australia) -- There's political upheaval in the land down under.

A little more than three years after becoming Australia's first woman prime minister, Julia Gillard's public career appears to be over after she was removed as Labor Party leader on Wednesday.

Her ouster was orchestrated by Kevin Rudd, who was prime minister before Gillard came to power in similar fashion back in 2010.

Ironically, Rudd praised the now former prime minister, saying, "She is a woman of extraordinary intelligence, of great strength and great energy.  She has been a remarkable reformer."

Rudd is poised to step into Gillard's shoes, possibly on Thursday, provided he demonstrates he can work with independents and a minor party in Australia's House of Representatives.

As for Gillard, who tended her resignation, she says she's proud of what her government achieved in its short tenure, including the carbon tax paid by industrial polluters.  Gillard initially campaigned against instituting such a tax, which probably helped to hasten her departure.

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