Rudd's relentless campaign pays off

00:27, Jun 27 2013
Kevin Rudd
WATCHING YOU: Kevin Rudd (background) keeps a close eye on then Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

The moment Kevin Rudd lost the Australian prime ministership to Julia Gillard he started plotting to get it back.

Three years and two days later, his relentless campaign has finally paid off.

It says a lot about the man. He's stubborn, persistent and driven.

Born in the Queensland town of Nambour in 1957, Rudd joined the Australian Labor Party at 15 years of age in 1972.

He moved to Canberra three years later to study at the Australian National University and subsequently joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) as a cadet diplomat.

After leaving DFAT in 1988 Rudd returned to Queensland to work for state opposition leader Wayne Goss.

When Queensland Labor won power a year later, he served first as the premier's chief of staff and then as director-general of the cabinet office.

He was well on the way to a federal political career - and already earning a reputation as a ruthless control freak.

A failed attempt to win the federal electorate of Griffith in 1996 was followed by victory there in 1998.

Rudd didn't have a faction in Canberra but quickly started courting the media and his caucus colleagues and in 2001, he hit the Labor frontbench as opposition spokesman for foreign affairs.

In December 2006 he took the Labor leadership from Kim Beazley. He and his deputy Gillard were dubbed "the dream team".

But Rudd and Gillard never really liked each other and their partnership was doomed.

Within three and a half years they would be locked in one of the most epic and bitter fights in Australian political history.

Rudd won a convincing victory over John Howard in November 2007, ending 11 years of conservative rule.

At first, everything seemed great. Rudd remained popular while the coalition was consumed by infighting.

But trouble was brewing.

Colleagues were frustrated by his tendency to micro-manage and ride roughshod over them. So when Rudd's approval rating started dipping in 2010, caucus started looking for another leader.

His decision to pick a fight with the mining companies and shelve his emissions trading scheme were the final straws before Gillard toppled him on June 24, 2010.

Gillard said she intervened because Rudd's good government had lost its way.

She called an August election but a Labor campaign plagued by leaks resulted in a hung parliament.

Labor stayed in power with the help of crossbench MPs, but Gillard was reluctantly forced to draft Rudd into her frontbench.

Rudd was a good foreign minister but his 18 months in the job were overshadowed at every turn by persistent reports he was hellbent on getting back to The Lodge.

Sure enough, he resigned as foreign minister to challenge Gillard in February 2012. Gillard won a decisive victory.

Rudd had already long been the people's choice for leader. But he couldn't convince his caucus colleagues he deserved a second go in the top job and fewer than one-third of Labor MPs backed his bid.

After conceding defeat he moved to the backbench and pledged to abandon his ambitions and work hard for Gillard's re-election.

But no one really believed him.

A farcical, abortive coup attempt in March this year led by Simon Crean damaged his credibility.

But within weeks, Gillard's stubbornly disappointing poll numbers put him back in the frame.

Now the man once dubbed a "psychopath" by a Labor colleague is leading the party once again.