Welsh Woman about to Rise to the Top Down under .

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Byline: By Sarah Miloudi Western Mail

This Welsh woman is within hours set to become Australia's first female deputy Prime Minister.

As voting opened last night - at 8am local time - in the nation's General Election, polls put Barry-born Julia Gillard's Labour Party 10 points ahead of its Conservative Liberal Nationalist coalition opponents.

The Conservative Party, led by John Howard, has been in government for the last 11 years. But since both parties officially launched their election campaigns 10 days ago, Labour have stormed ahead in the polls, and look set to scoop the 15 seats the party needs to remove the centre-right coalition from power.

Ms Gillard, 46, emigrated to Australia in 1966 as part of the "pounds 10 pom" scheme - an immigration incentive where British citizens were given financial support to move to Australia.

Accompanied by her mother Moira, father John and sister Alison, the ex-lawyer spent her childhood in Adelaide before moving to Melbourne to begin a career in politics.

Despite being thrown out of the Australian Parliament last year for calling Health Minister Tony Abbott a "snivelling little grub," Ms Gillard is widely regarded as the rising star of Australian politics.

The Shadow Minister for Employment has made her name as a staunch supporter of union rights and for women to become better represented in politics. She is being tipped by political analysts to become one of Australia's future Prime Ministers.

Turnout for the General Election is expected to exceed 64%.

As well as voting for members of the Parliament's upper house, the Senate, Australian voters must also choose candidates for 150 seats in the lower chamber, the House of Representatives.

On Thursday , Ms Gillard was giving nothing away about what she thought her chances of victory were at the polls. …