Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard today said she would leave APEC talks in Russia early because her elderly father had passed away at home.
In a statement,the prime minister said John Gillard died this morning in Adelaide and she planned to travel home as soon as possible “to grieve with my family”. He was 93.
“He has battled illness in recent years but his death is a shock for me and my family,” she said.
Gillard arrived in the eastern city of Vladivostok last night for the high-level talks but failed to attend the opening session of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders meet,the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin explained Gillard’s absence.
“One of our colleagues,the Australian prime minister,has had a very unfortunate tragedy in her family,” Putin said.
“Her father passed away,so I would like,on behalf of all of us,to express condolences to her and her entire family.”
Trade Minister Craig Emerson,who was already in Vladivostok,will now take Gillard’s place in the remaining APEC forums today and tomorrow.
In her statement,Gillard said he father had always regretted that his family background meant he had not proceeded on to higher education as a young man.
“He was determined that I had the opportunities he was denied,” she said.
John Gillard and wife Moira emigrated to Australia from Wales in 1966 under the “Ten Pound Pom” scheme,bringing with them the toddler who would become the nation’s first woman prime minister.