The vote was expected to be close, but in the end Australia romped it in.
It's an important win: a two-year seat on the UN Security Council is not only a diplomatic triumph for the government, but also a vote of confidence in Australia as a 'fine global citizen', as Bob Carr put it.
Kevin Rudd, who initiated the campaign, offered his congratulations to everyone involved, including Gillard. The Prime Minister's own statement neglected to mention Rudd, which will likely be seen as needlessly provocative – or perhaps payback for his tendency to step back into the public spotlight each time she goes overseas. (Update: Gillard thanked Rudd at her midday press conference)
Tony Abbott, despite being a possible beneficiary of the win, was begrudging: "It was an expensive win and I think it probably owes as much to Kevin Rudd as to Julia Gillard, but nevertheless a win’s a win,” he said.
It will be up to this government and the next to make the most of this rare opportunity. The new members' first job will be to try to negotiate a way through the current stalement over Syria. Welcome to the world of the Security Council.
How Australia Can Wield Power at The UN Head Table
"For a country like Australia, a two-year term on the Security Council is no small thing. It has previously happened only four times. But running a campaign for the Security Council – as complex and entrepreneurial as that is – is very different to actually being a successful non-permanent member.
"So this is what 'no advantage' looks like. We have barely started sending asylum seekers to Nauru and already there has been an attempted suicide. By hanging, according to the psychiatrist who reported it. The end result was that three more asylum seekers opted to return home rather than face our immigration system. That brings the tally of voluntary returns to about 40 - 40 people who decided the situation was so grim, so hopeless that they were better off returning to the place they were fleeing."
Politicians And Fruit Cakes: A Tawdry Tale
"Politicians around the country now dread the prospect of innocently being part of an audience when a tawdry or sexist joke is told… There was a time when such tasteless remarks were commonplace. One night in particular, back in July 1981, the great luminaries of the ALP lined up against one another at a fund raising dinner at Melbourne's Southern Cross Hotel. Their challenge was to tell the best joke. Political correctness was suspended for the night."