Late last month, Rudd, 50, led Labor to victory by promising a new generation of leadership, ending 11 years of conservative rule by John Howard, the former prime minister.

 

After taking the oath of office at Government House in Canberra, Rudd gathered his cabinet for their first formal meeting saying Australia was turning "a new page into the future".

 

"It's getting down to work on the agenda we put to the people during the election period. I'm really looking forward to that," he said.

 

Rudd's cabinet includes the first woman deputy PM and the first climate change minister [AFP]

Aside from reversing Howard's refusal to ratify the Kyoto pact, Rudd has promised several other sharp changes in policy from his predecessor, including pledges to pull all Australian troops out of Iraq and dismantle union-busting labour laws.

 

Included in Rudd's new cabinet are Julia Gillard, Australia's first woman to hold the post of deputy prime minister, and Penny Wong the country's first climate change minister and first Asian-born minister

 

Rudd's decision to sign Kyoto leaves the US as the only developed nation yet to ratify the agreement which sets binding limits on developed countries to curb carbon emissions blamed for global warming.

 

Next week the new prime minister will lead a delegation to the UN summit in the Indonesian resort island of Bali where negotiations began on Monday on new pollution targets after the Kyoto pact expires in 2012.