Canberra: Like Japan’s Shinzo Abe, Australia’s resurrected Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd believes 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 Abe and 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.

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. Abe won national elections in late 2012, and 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, 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 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 said. “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 Rudd promising to consult with his new ministry before deciding on new policies and the timing of the election, which Gillard had set for 14 September.

Fundamental change to election contest

The return of the nerdy, folksy Rudd has fundamentally altered the contest for Australia’s election and prompted a quick change of tactics from both sides of politics.

Both Rudd and opposition leader Tony Abbott, who remains the favourite to win power at elections due within three months, are Christians who openly publicize their family values, in contrast to Gillard, who is an atheist and unmarried, with no children.

Abbott, a super-fit Sydneysider who once boxed for Oxford University, has been quick to change his attacks on the government to demonstrate how Rudd has been a divisive figure for the past three years and a failed leader first time around.

Abbott’s Liberal Party has already released television advertisements highlighting the bitter criticism of Rudd from his own colleagues, in which he is described as demeaning, bossy and contemptuous of his peers and voters.

“How is it that a prime minister who is chaotic and dysfunctional in office can suddenly be a prime minister of due process?" Abbott said on Thursday as his lawmakers listed a string of troubled policies from Rudd’s first time in office.

Team player

Rudd’s chirpy style—deputy Anthony Albanese is “Albo" and defence minister Stephen Smith is “Smitty"—has endeared him to voters, so that he consistently rates higher than both Abbott and Gillard in the preferred prime minister stakes.

He has said he wants to promote a positive agenda and end the political negativity, which he blames on Abbott.

Government powerbroker Bill Shorten, whose last minute shift of support to Rudd sealed the victory over Gillard, said Rudd would be a different prime minister a second time around.

“He seems to have changed his view about what he needs to do, the way he needs to consult with other members of the government," Shorten said on Thursday. “I believe he will operate in a more consultative open style, and yes, I believe he’s changed."

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