New Australian PM Rudd Vows to Sign Climate Pact


11-27-07, 9:41 am

BEIJING, Nov. 26 -- New Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has vowed to sign a global pact on climate change and to negotiate to withdraw frontline troops from Iraq after an emphatic national election win on the weekend.

The Labor leader ascended to the nation's top post after his party secured a majority of 24 in the country's 150-seat lower house to oust long-serving conservative leader John Howard, a staunch ally of U.S. President George W. Bush, in Saturday's Federal ballot.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao sent a message of congratulations to Rudd Sunday.

A national swing of about 5.5 percent delivered the formidable majority to Rudd's center-left party after the Liberal-National coalition led by Howard, 68, had held a 16-seat advantage ahead of the poll.

'Today, Australia has looked to the future,' Rudd, Australia's 26th prime minister, said during his acceptance speech in his home city of Brisbane in the northern state of Queensland Saturday night.

'Today, the Australian people have decided we as a nation will move forward, to plan for the future, to embrace the future and, together as Australians, to unite and write a new page in our nation's history.

'I say to all those who have voted for us today, I say to each and every one of them that I will be a prime minister for all Australians.'

Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on limiting carbon emissions - which the United States has also refused to sign - withdrawing Australia's frontline troops from Iraq and scrapping the Howard government's controversial industrial relations legislation were high on Rudd's list of priorities at his first press conference as national leader Sunday.

Earlier, the honors graduate in Putonghua and devout Christian attended mass with his family.

Rudd, who served as first secretary at the Australian embassy in Beijing in the 1980s, first struck a chord with voters earlier in the year by proposing to upgrade Australia's substandard broadband Internet capability.

This contrasted his 'new-leadership' election pitch with the status quo outlook of Howard's government, which only attacked Rudd's plans to fund the popular project.