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Kevin Rudd And Julia Gillard Unite For Labor Party Campaign Launch

All smiles and waves, former prime ministers Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd entered the Labor campaign launch in Brisbane shoulder to shoulder.

The pair have rarely been seen at events together since Rudd re-claimed his prime ministership from Gillard back in 2013 after she unseated him in 2010. It was the first of a spate of leadership spills Australian politics would endure over the next eight years.

But on Sunday, Gillard and Rudd attended the 2019 official launch of Labor's election campaign, alongside fellow former PM Paul Keating.

The pair appeared relaxed, laughing and chatting as they took their seats beside each other in the front row at the Brisbane Convention Centre.

Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd
Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard arrive at Labor campaign launch In Brisbane. Image: AAP Photos.

When Bill Shorten took to the stage after speeches from Senate leader Penny Wong, Deputy PM Tanya Plibersek and wife Chloe among others, he didn't take long to acknowledge the achievements of those who led before him.

READ MORE: Bill Shorten’s Wife Chloe Literally Caught A Small Boy Falling Out Of A Tree

He started with Paul Keating, who was Prime Minister between 1991 and 1996. Keating is known for introducing compulsory superannuation and helping bring both republicanism and Indigenous affairs to the centre of national debate.

"Now, Paul, you mightn’t be aware of this but a few months ago Peter Dutton said that 'the big problem with Chris Bowen and with Labor is that we want to deliver Paul Keating’s unfinished business,'" Shorten said at the launch.

"Now, he meant it as an insult. We cannot imagine a greater compliment in Labor. Paul, you’re a wonderful source of advice to me and my colleagues, a source of great inspiration to every Labor person and I thank you."

Julia Gillard, Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd
Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Paul Keating at the 2019 Labor election campaign launch. Image: AAP Photos.

Shorten then turned his attention to Kevin Rudd's historic apology to the Stolen Generations during his first week as PM in 2008.

"In my very first week that I served in the Australian Parliament, I, and all of us, had the privilege of hearing Prime Minister Rudd deliver the National Apology to the Stolen Generations," Shorten said.

"Kevin, that act of leadership, that act of decency, that act of healing wasn’t just a great Labor achievement, it was a great national moment. It proved, and you proved, that government at its best can speak to the better angels after the Australian nature. Thank you very much, we will never forget it."

Shorten then turned his attention to Julia Gillard, praising her work in calling for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse in 2012.

READ MORE: What A National Apology Means For Child Sexual Abuse Survivors

"Julia, you had the humility to listen, the courage to act and because of you, justice is no longer denied to thousands of our fellow Australians," Shorten said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivers the National Apology to survivors of child sexual abuse in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra. Image: AAP

"Everyone in the Labor family would like to leave a legacy -- your legacy is one which is truly splendid."

Finally, Bob Hawke, who was unable to attend the launch, was thanked by Shorten.

"Finally, I’d like to address a bloke who cannot be here today but I know that he and Blanche are watching on television, the one and only Bob Hawke. Bob, we love you and in the next 13 days, we are going to do this for you! Thank you, Bob."

Shorten continued by detailing what doing "this" actually means, with a range of new announcements addressing early and tertiary education, mental health, hospitals and climate change.

READ MORE: Bill Shorten Narrowly Wins Second Leaders' Debate

It includes a doubling of case workers working on the child abuse redress scheme, a $500 million commitment for emergency department upgrades and doctors and nurses, and $200 million for youth mental health services.

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au