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Oz PM's dad never expected her to be leader

world Updated: Jun 24, 2010 08:58 IST

The father of Australia's new Prime Minister Julia Gillard spoke on Thursday of his pride in his daughter but admitted he never expected her to become the nation's leader.

An "elated" John Gillard, who moved his then young family from Wales to Australia in 1966 for a better life, said his 48-year-old daughter was undoubtably a talented political performer.

"I knew that she would be a performer as a participant in the arena, and that she would be formidable and that she would certainly rise," he said.

"But I never thought she would rise to the position of prime minister. But there we are, that's what happened."

Gillard won a party room vote uncontested on Thursday to take over the leadership from the bookish Kevin Rudd whose sliding opinion polls had made party leaders fearful the government would lose an upcoming election.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Gillard's parents John and Moira said their daughter had the right qualities to be a leader.

"I just said it would be a dream," Moira Gillard told Channel 9 television.

"She said if it comes, it comes, if it doesn't, it doesn't. That is her attitude."

John Gillard said that his daughter's rise to the top post from modest beginnings in South Australia was a fantastic achievement for his lawyer daughter.

"I think that whatever endeavour Julia participated in she'd rise to the top because she is a person of enormous talent, a prodigious worker," he said.