Supporters say Australia's Rudd is a changed leader

CANBERRA (REUTERS) - Like Japan's Shinzo Abe, supporters of Australia's resurrected Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd believe he has learned the hard lessons of a failed first government and can be a more effective leader in the runup to national elections.

Both Mr Abe and Mr Rudd were youthful politicians who took power promising a positive generational change, but whose terms in office were cut short by falling support in opinion polls.

Mr Rudd won elections in late 2007 but was dumped by his own party in June 2010 on the eve of national elections, over fears he would lead his party to a thumping defeat.

Both have now made historic comebacks. Mr Abe won national elections in late 2012, and Mr Rudd unseated Julia Gillard, Australia's first woman prime minister, in a leadership coup on Wednesday, against the backdrop of dire opinion polls for the ruling Labor Party with elections looming.

But this time, Mr Rudd's closest backers and advisers believe the prime minister will be different from the secretive, autocratic and workaholic leader who regularly shunned political advice and became increasingly isolated from colleagues during his first term in power.

They believe Mr Rudd will become a team player who takes advice and consult with his cabinet on major policies and decisions, rather than rely on a small inner circle.

"I think we've all learnt from experiences we've been through," Labor former cabinet minister and Senator Kim Carr told Reuters. "It's a very unfortunate individual that doesn't.

"There are very few politicians who get a second chance to deal with the substantive questions. He's one of the rare ones. Kevin is innovative, he's a very good communicator. He has a really keen interest in going to the heart of a social problem."

Government advisers say his new approach is already evident, with Mr Rudd promising to consult with his new ministry before deciding on new policies and the timing of the election, which Gillard had set for September 14.

Mr Rudd's first day back in power showcased some familiar habits, however. He kept ministers working on briefings until 2 a.m., and arrived more than 30 minutes late for his first media conference, where he took no questions.

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