Kevin Michael Rudd (born 21 September 1957) is an Australian former politician who was the 26th Prime Minister of Australia, serving from December 2007 to June 2010 and again from June to September 2013. He held office as the leader of the Australian Labor Party.
Rudd was born in Nambour, Queensland. He has a degree in Chinese studies from the Australian National University, and is fluent in Mandarin. Before entering politics, he worked as a diplomat, political staffer, and public servant. Rudd was elected to the House of Representatives at the 1998 election, running in the Division of Griffith. He was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet in 2001 as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs. In December 2006, he successfully challenged Kim Beazley to become the Leader of the Labor Party (and thus Leader of the Opposition). Under Rudd, Labor overtook the incumbent Coalition government led by John Howard in the polls, making a number of policy announcements in education, health, industrial relations, and climate change.
Labor won the 2007 election by a landslide, with a 23-seat swing in its favour. The Rudd Governments first acts included signing the Kyoto Protocol and delivering an apology to Indigenous Australians for the Stolen Generations. Its signature policies included the National Broadband Network, the Digital Education Revolution, and Building the Education Revolution. It also largely dismantled WorkChoices (the previous governments industrial relations legislation), withdrew Australias remaining Iraq War combat personnel, and organised the Australia 2020 Summit. The government provided economic stimulus packages in response to the global financial crisis, and Australia was one of the few developed countries to avoid the late-2000s recession.
Despite a long period of popularity in opinion polls, a significant fall in Rudds personal ratings in the middle of 2010 was blamed on a proposed Resource Super Profits Tax and the deferral of the Senate-rejected Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. With the next election drawing near, there was growing dissatisfaction with Rudds leadership within the Labor Party. Rudds deputy Julia Gillard eventually announced on 23 June 2010 that she would challenge him for the leadership the following day. He chose not to contest, knowing he would be defeated if he contested the leadership, and on the morning of the ballot he resigned as Prime Minister. However, he remained in politics and successfully re-contested his seat at the 2010 election, after which Labor formed a minority government.
In September 2010, Rudd was promoted back to cabinet as Minister for Foreign Affairs. He remained in that post until his resignation on 22 February 2012, Gillard called a leadership spill the following day, which Rudd lost 71–31. Tensions over the leadership continued, and Gillard announced another ballot in March 2013, which Rudd did not contest. A further ballot was held in June 2013, which Rudd won 57–45. His second term as prime minister lasted less than three months; he became the first serving Australian prime minister to publicly support same-sex marriage. Despite an initial rise in opinion polls following his return, Labor was defeated in the 2013 election.
Rudd announced his retirement from politics a few months after the 2013 election. In February 2014, he was named a senior fellow with John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he completed a major research effort on the future of China–United States relations. In September 2014, he became a distinguished fellow at the Paulson Institute, a think tank at the University of Chicago. He is also the inaugural President of the Asia Society Policy Institute, and chairs the Independent Commission on Multilateralism and the Sanitation and Water for All global partnership.