PRIME Minister-elect Kevin Rudd says new opportunities lay ahead for the Australian economy in agriculture, processed foods and manufacturing.
Mr Rudd said at a press conference at 10.45pm on Wednesday he embraced the opportunity to once again lead the country after defeating Julia Gillard as Labor leader 57 votes to 45 at a caucus meeting.
"That is a task I resume today with a sense of purpose," Mr Rudd said.
"Negative personal politics... has been holding our country back."
As well as absorbing the news of Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig's resignation, rural Australia was also reeling today from the news that Independent MPs Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott would not re-contest the upcoming federal election.
Mr Windsor said rural Australians might only comprise 30 per cent of the vote but it was a position they could use to determine the outcome of every election.
Mr Windsor held back tears during an emotional media conference when speaking about his decision to step down after 22 years in politics, at what turned out to be only the beginning of an historic day in Australian politics.
Mr Rudd acknowledged former Prime Minister Gillard as a "woman of great strength, intelligence and energy" who achieved much under the difficulties of a minority government and said she had been a "remarkable reformer".
He said he could not "stand idly by" and watch an Abbott government come to power by default as the Labor Party's approval ratings nose-dived in polls.
Mr Rudd said the global economy was recovering slowly and that new opportunities lay ahead in agriculture, processed foods and manufacturing in light of the Chinese economic boom.
He also called for increased engagement from the country's youth.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott said Labor had provided "an abundance of clever politics but almost no good government". He reiterated promises to "stop the boats" and rescind "unnecessary taxes".
"I'm not interested in playing parliamentary games," Mr Abbott said when asked about the possibility of moving a motion of no confidence in the government.
"I want to say directly to the people of Australia - you deserve better than this."
Newly-elected Deputy Prime Minister-elect Anthony Albanese said, "Labor is about providing opportunity for all... creating fairness and growing the economy".
Following the dumping of Ms Gillard for Mr Rudd at Wednesday night's Labor caucus meeting, several Gillard backers - including Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig and Treasurer Wayne Swan - resigned from their portfolios.
Trade Minister Craig Emerson, Education Minister Peter Garrett, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy also resigned.
Mr Emerson confirmed he, like Ms Gillard and Mr Garrett, will leave politics altogether.
Senator Ludwig said he had "proudly served" as a Labor Minister for six years, and that the experience had been "deeply rewarding".
"As a member of the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Workers Union for over 30 years I have committed myself to improving the lot of working people," Senator Ludwig said.
"I am proud of my achievements and the achievements of every Labor government.
"When Labor has been in government, it has been for the benefit of the Australian people. It has been a great honour to have been a part of positive change for the nation.
"Acting in good faith to the Party and the elected Labor leadership, I have decided not to serve as a Minister under Mr Rudd’s leadership.
"As a Labor Senator I will continue to work for the people of Queensland and will campaign for the re-election of the Rudd Labor government."
Queensland Agforce president Ian Burnett said he had only sent a message to Senator Ludwig on Wednesday to discuss the controversy over national park grazing across drought impacted regions.
Mr Burnett said despite the leadership and portfolio changes, Agforce looked forward to working with a new Agriculture Minister, especially on the issue of the ongoing drought crisis across western Queensland regions.
“This change of leadership provides very uncertain times for agriculture,” he said.
Mr Burnett said he hoped the new Rudd Cabinet would reconsider the former line-up's opposition to temporary grazing in national parks for drought impacted producers across the state.
The news of Senator Ludwig's resignation followed Mr Rudd's re-election as leader of the Labor Party almost three years to the day since he was initially deposed as Prime Minister by then-deputy Ms Gillard.
Mr Rudd won the ballot 57 votes to 45. Anthony Albanese was elected deputy Labor leader, defeating Simon Crean 61 votes to 38 with three informal votes.
Senator Penny Wong was elected Senate leader, replacing Senator Conroy.
Ms Gillard thanked her former deputy, Wayne Swan, for his support, as well as her front bench team, staff and her family. She said she was confident Labor would still approach the September federal election from a position of strength. She confirmed she will not re-contest her federal seat of Lalor in Victoria at the September election.