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Julia Gillard signs her commission as prime minister of Australia at Government House in Canberra on Thursday. ((Alan Porritt/Reuters))

Australia has its first female prime minister after the ruling Labor Party dumped Kevin Rudd and installed his deputy as leader.

Julia Gillard will lead the government to the next general elections, set for later this year.

Gillard, 48, stood unopposed at a vote of the party's 112 lawmakers Thursday, hours after a revolt against Rudd.

Rudd didn't even stand for reappointment in the vote — a signal that he knew his support had collapsed.

Since she is leader of the majority party in Parliament, Gillard's swearing-in as prime minister is only a formality.

The Welsh-born Gillard, considered to be part of Labor's more leftist faction, is unlikely to alter Australia's key foreign policy positions, such as its troop commitment to Afghanistan.

Rudd won a landslide election victory less than three years ago but suffered a recent plunge in opinion polls.

Gillard was first elected to Parliament in 1998 and after the 2007 Labor victory was made deputy prime minister and minister of several portfolios: namely, education; employment and workplace relations; and social inclusion.