The warning came as Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner yesterday launched another broadside at the mining industry, describing it as being led by “the billionaire liberation front”.
The remarks – coupled with Mr Rudd’s direct warning last week to industry leaders that Labor had “long memories” – show the Government has little intention of backing down.
“Do not be misled by the distorted advertising campaign, and do not be misled about projects that will be abandoned when they were fictitious from the start,” Mr Tanner said.
“This is about Australia’s long-term sustainable growth. It is about ensuring that the prosperity that flows from our natural wealth that is in the ground can be distributed for the benefit of all Australians, across all sectors of the economy, all regions and all participants in our society.”
At a Labor conference in Melbourne, Mr Tanner also played up the Government’s policy credentials, highlighting the dumping of WorkChoices.
Mr Richardson also noted Mr Rudd’s policy credentials. He applauded the PM for sticking to his commitment to introduce a parental leave policy last week, but questioned whether it was enough to help at the polls.
The comments pre-empt tomorrow’s Newspoll, which has been flagged by some Labor MPs as a critical factor as to whether Mr Rudd should remain as leader. Some insiders believe a significant slide could act as a trigger for a leadership spill.
Despite the disastrous turn, installing Julia Gillard wouldn’t necessary change the party’s fortunes, Mr Richardson said.
“It certainly wouldn’t be worse,” he said. “In 2007, (Rudd) was the best campaigner I ever saw, but something happened to that bloke and they are all trying to find him again.
“If they do, then there’s a chance of getting up, but lately that hasn’t been happening.”
Mr Rudd was also saved by the fact a coup was also logistically difficult to organise once parliament rose.
Although many MPs are calling for Ms Gillard to be installed, while the Deputy Leader herself still had faith Mr Rudd could change Labor’s fortunes, Mr Richardson said she was unlikely to put her hand up for the job.
“She’s being loyal,” he said.