Julia Gillard has taken her place at the House of Representatives despatch box as the nation’s first woman prime minister.
Ms Gillard, sworn in 90 minutes earlier by the governor-general, was welcomed to the chamber by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who shook her hand.
In one of her first acts as prime minister, she tabled a new ministerial list, which also notes Wayne Swan’s new position as deputy prime minister.
“It is my intention to lead a government that is focused each and every day of meeting the needs of working families around the country,” Ms Gillard said. “We will get back on track.”
She paid tribute to her predecessor Kevin Rudd, who sat stony-faced on the backbench beside chief government whip Roger Price.
He had the gratitude and respect of the Labor party, Ms Gillard said, adding she was full of admiration for the remarkable way in which he handled Thursday’s events.
Labor MPs concurred with a “hear, hear”.
Mr Abbott congratulated Ms Gillard and Mr Swan on their elevation to new roles.
He also offered his commiserations to Mr Rudd by taking aim at the Labor caucus.
“He should have been allowed to face the judgment of the Australian people,” Mr Abbott told parliament.
“A midnight knock on the door, followed by midnight execution is no way that the Australian prime minister should be treated.”
Mr Abbott said the new prime minister faced a “big challenge” to offer the right policies to the Australian people.
“The new prime minister has admitted that the government has lost its way,” he said.
“Her challenge will be to demonstrate how things will be different given that she is as committed, it seems, to policies of the former prime minister, as he was himself.”
The Australian public could expect a “fierce and tough” contest with the coalition, Mr Abbott said.
“I respect the abilities of the prime minister and hope as well as being a tough contest, it will also be a clean and fair contest.”
Mr Abbott used his first question to grill the new prime minister on Labor’s controversial mining tax.
He demanded the government provide a show of good faith by readjusting its budget to remove the $12 billion it plans to reap from the tax.
Good faith negotiations were already under way, Ms Gillard replied.
The government was opening its door to mining companies, asking them to open their minds in return.
It has scrapped a $38 million advertising campaign to promote the tax as a sign of good faith, with BHP Billiton the first to respond in kind.
“The negotiations will proceed in an orderly fashion, bit by bit, piece by piece,” Ms Gillard said.