Melbourne: Three Australian ministers quit on Friday after a botched leadership coup in which Prime Minister Julia Gillard retained Labor Party's top job, as main rival Kevin Rudd said he would not challenge her again.

51-year-old Gillard was elected unopposed at a meeting of the Labor Caucus on Thursday following her dramatic announcement to call a leadership ballot as internal unrest mounted in the party ahead of a general election in September.

Rudd decided not to run in Thursday's Labor leadership spill which left Gillard to be re-elected unopposed. The ructions caused several members of the party to resign their positions, including Rudd supporters Tertiary Education Minister Chris Bowen, Human Services Minister Kim Carr and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson, who all quit the Gillard ministry on Friday, The Age reported.

Bowen, the former immigration minister, resigned from the frontbench stating that he would stay in politics to stand again at the next election. "(On Thursday) I took the decision that the best thing for the Labor Party and Australia would be for Kevin Rudd to return to the prime ministership," Bowen said. "Having expressed that view....(and) after discussing the matter with my wife and close friends I decided to resign from the Gillard cabinet," he said.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued a statement ruling out any suggestions that he may try again for the Labor leadership, saying there are now "no circumstances" under which he would return. Rudd said that he would contest the next election as a local Member of Parliament.

"Rudd has said consistently over the last 12 months that he would not challenge for the Labor leadership and that he would contest the next election as a local Member of Parliament. That position has not changed," a statement from Rudd's spokesperson said. "Furthermore, Rudd wishes to make 100 per cent clear to all members of the parliamentary Labor Party, including his own supporters, that there are no circumstances under which he will return to the Labor Party leadership in the future," the statement said.

Speaking to reporters in northern New South Wales, Gillard said Rudd's statement that he would not in any circumstances return to the Labor leadership laid the matter to rest. "This issue is over and done with," Gillard said. "This issue has been resolved for all time and I think Kevin's statement reflects that," she said.


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