Ex-Australian PM Kevin Rudd quits politics


Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd waves to supporters after conceding defeat in the general election on Sept. 7, 2013.



Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has quit politics.

Rudd, who led the Australian Labor Party to defeat in the general election in September, fought back tears as he told the federal parliament in Canberra on Wednesday that he would leave at the end of the week.

“This has been the product of much soul-searching for us as a family over the last few months," Rudd told a packed House of Representatives.

"The decision that I have made has not been taken lightly.

"But for me, my family is everything, always has been, always will be, which is why I will not be continuing as a member of this Parliament beyond this week."

Rudd served as prime minister twice. The first time was between 2007 and 2010 when he lost the post to his deputy Julia Gillard. He returned to the top job just before the 2013 election, but lost to Tony Abbott’s conservative Liberal-National coalition party, whose victory was helped by Labor infighting.

Bill Shorten, who succeeded Rudd as Labor leader, said his former boss had led Australia “with distinction” and could leave parliament “with his head held high.”

In a statement, Abbott wished Rudd and his family well in their post-political life.

Abbott also paid tribute to Rudd’s decision to issue an apology to Indigenous Australians soon after he was elected prime minister in 2007.

“Whatever disagreements my colleagues and I have had with Mr Rudd, we will always honour what he achieved on the day of the National Apology," the statement said.

"Ancient wrongs were addressed that day. It was a great moment in our country's history and it happened because of him."

Rudd’s sudden departure will force a byelection in the Brisbane seat of Griffith, which Rudd has held since 1998.