Live blog: Labor leadership struggle.

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Live blog: Labor leadership struggle

Updated February 23, 2012 10:24:57

Prime Minister Julia Gillard will today call a ballot to resolve the Labor leadership stoush with her predecessor Kevin Rudd, after his sudden resignation as Foreign Minister. Follow updates as they happen using our live blog.


10.08am: Julia Gillard says a ballot for the Labor leadership will be held at 10am on Monday.

I have decided at 10am on Monday morning a ballot for the leadership of the Labor Party will be conducted.

Julia Gillard


If she loses the vote, Ms Gillard has vowed she will go to the backbench and renounce any further claims to the Labor Party leadership. She has asked Mr Rudd to give the same undertaking.

Here’s more of what she had to say:

I want to be clear about this too: I believe that we can win the next election and defeat Tony Abbott. I believe I can lead Labor to that victory provided that the Labor Party unites and we get on with the job.

Government is about more than electioneering. Government is about the courage to get the big reforms done.

I think it’s very important that the leadership ballot on Monday ends this once and for all.

Julia Gillard


Ms Gillard is addressing a news conference in Adelaide. Watch now on ABC News 24.

9.49am: @KRuddMP takes to Twitter as he departs his Washington hotel:

Heading back home to Brissie. Not exactly the visit I had planned to Washington! A big thank you for all the support.

Kevin Rudd


And here’s the video of Mr Rudd’s news conference this morning.


9.44am: @latikambourke: Cabinet sources tell me Kevin Rudd did not raise a single one of the issues in Cabinet which he named in his presser just then.

Key developments today


9.23am: Here’s a one-line take on Mr Rudd’s speech from chief political correspondent Emma Griffiths:

“A smiling Kevin Rudd has fronted the media in Washington saying he has had many “encouraging” discussions overnight with colleagues but he’s stopped short of declaring he will run for the leadership.”

More here.

9.15am: Mr Rudd says he will declare his final intention on whether he will contest the Labor leadership on his return home.

He says only a mug believes in circulated lists of supporters in the lead-up to a leadership spill.

I do not believe that Prime Minister Gillard can lead the Australian Labor Party to success at the next election.

Kevin Rudd


9.06am Kevin Rudd is addressing the media in Washington. Watch live on ABC News 24.

Mr Rudd says he has had many conversations with his colleagues overnight, and has had feedback that they regard him as the best prospect to “save” the Labor Party at the next election and to “save the country from the ravages of an Abbott government”.

He says he is shocked and disappointed by other colleagues’ personal attacks against him in the past 24 hours.

“I’ve frankly been shocked and disappointed by the tone and content of the intensely personal attacks which have been lodged against me overnight in Australia,” he said.

“I do not believe that these sort of attacks have a place in our political life.

“I would urge my own supporters in Australia not to retaliate.”

Mr Rudd says the contest for the leadership of the Labor Party is not about personality but rather about trust, vision and policy. On that front, he has set out his policy directions for the future, including changes to: the taxing of small businesses; restoring support to the Australian car industry; a renewed focus on health and education; and reform of the Labor Party.

If we don’t get this right, folks, we may as well kiss tomorrow goodbye.

Kevin Rudd


8.51am: Kevin Rudd has announced he will hold another press conference, scheduled for 9am AEDT. Hold onto your hats folks.

8.23am: Janelle Saffin – the Labor Member for Page – has publicly added her name to the list of Kevin Rudd supporters in the party’s caucus room.

8.20am: Communications Minister Stephen Conroy was next up on ABC Radio’s AM. Again, here’s how @latikambourke reported it:

  • Now, Stephen Conroy on the #pokies story and Wilkie’s revelations – says it’s clear Kevin Rudd has been a ‘complete and utter fraud.’
  • Stephen Conroy: ‘[Kevin Rudd] undermined and leaked during the election campaign.’
  • Stephen Conroy: ‘This is not about a popularity contest, this is about leadership.’

8.12am: On Twitter, @latikambourke is tracking what Treasurer Wayne Swan has told ABC Radio:

  • Wayne Swan says for some time and with increasing frequency ‘Mr Rudd has been undermining the PM’.
  • Treasurer Wayne Swan says Mr Rudd has been involved in ‘that sort of attack’ [stealth] on the Prime Minister for some time.
  • Treasurer Wayne Swan says there’s no doubt Kevin Rudd sought to tear down the 2010 #ausvotes campaign.
  • Wayne Swan: ‘The truth is… Prime Minister Rudd was very flawed… he has great weaknesses… not seen in public.’
  • Wayne Swan: ‘I certainly did everything I could within [Gang of 4] framework…he became erractic…that’s why he was removed.’

8.03am: A large media contingent is keeping watch at Kevin Rudd’s hotel in Washington ahead of his expected departure for a flight home to Brisbane. Jane Cowan provided this look around the Willard Hotel, just a short distance from the White House.


7.54am: Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says Labor’s leadership dispute is an embarrassment to many Australians and is calling for the Labor Party to bring on an election to “let the people cast their verdict on this government”.

Whoever emerges as the (Labor) leader on Monday, the poison won’t go away.

Tony Abbott


7.48am: Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced she will hold a media conference at 9.30am AEDT.

7.45am: Kevin Rudd’s supporters are pushing for a leadership ballot to be held over until next Friday to allow time for wide debate in the party. Numbers man Alan Griffin said it earlier this morning and now Doug Cameron has told Radio National’s Fran Kelly it would be a “travesty of democracy” for Julia Gillard to call a ballot for Monday, as she is expected to do this morning.

You can always win any contest you’re in but this is going to be a big task for Kevin Rudd.

Doug Cameron


7.40am: Labor frontbencher Simon Crean has accused Kevin Rudd of hypocrisy, saying that his campaign for the leadership has been “perpetrated by faceless people” even as Mr Rudd says it is time to stamp out their influence on the Labor Party.

Mr Crean says that although Mr Rudd got an element of surprise with his sudden announcement yesterday, but he would still be surprised if Mr Rudd got 30 votes in the Labor caucus.

“The caucus will decide but not because Kevin’s called it on. All he’s done is to resign dramatically… and he’ll make another dramatic statement on Sunday, while the party bleeds,” Mr Crean said.

“[Rudd] has no option but to contest. Will he contest? That’s his judgement because he knows he doesn’t have the numbers.”

7.30am: Labor backbencher Alan Griffin, viewed as Kevin Rudd’s numbers man, has told ABC Radio’s AM that he expects Mr Rudd to put his hand up for the looming leadership ballot.

He has labelled Treasurer Wayne Swan’s harshly worded statement from last night disappointing.

I have to say it follows on from some fairly churlish and disappointing performances from several other ministers over the last couple of days. If they think that’s how you ensure that you hold a party together then I think they don’t really get it.

Alan Griffin


Mr Griffin has also denied claims that he gave a guarantee to Clubs Australia that Kevin Rudd would kill off poker machine reform if Mr Rudd became prime minister again. Mr Griffin is viewed as a key Rudd supporter.

7.15am: The perils of the job: this video shows a cameraman being injured after being struck by a car from the Prime Minister’s convoy outside a hotel in Adelaide last night.

7.05am: Attorney-General Nicola Roxon tells News Breakfast on ABC News 24 that Labor changed leaders in 2010 because Mr Rudd was very difficult to work with. Ms Roxon says Labor needs to “lance a boil” by resolving the leadership dispute so that it can get on with the job of governing Australia.

She says she is convinced Julia Gillard will win a leadership ballot convincingly, and would be surprised if Mr Rudd has the 40 caucus votes his supporters say he does.

We need to get out of this idea that Kevin is a Messiah who will deliver government back to us.

Nicola Roxon



7.00am: Former Labor leader Mark Latham was on Sky News last night. If you missed it, he said he did not believe Mr Rudd would have the critical mass of support in the Labor caucus and that he would ultimately decide not to contest the leadership.

6.45am: Here’s a quick reading guide to who is saying what in this morning’s papers…

  • Laura Tingle: “Kevin Rudd has unleashed the People Power Plan he has had drawn up for the past 12 months. An excess of enthusiasm from Julia Gillard’s supporters offered him the opportunity to… go on the front foot.”
  • Dennis Shanahan and Sid Maher: “With Kevin Rudd fresh off a plane half a world away from Canberra in Washington, DC, and the momentum in Labor’s leadership crisis shifting against him, a Julia Gillard supporter moved to deliver the coup de grace.”
  • Peter Hartcher: “Gillard will now seek to recover the initiative. She will initiate a ballot for the leadership on Monday. But Rudd can choose to run, or not. What if she declares a spill and Rudd just sits there?”
  • Peter van Onselen: “Despite Kevin Rudd’s attempt to label Julia Gillard as a product of the scheming of faceless men, both camps are led by their fair share of powerbrokers.”
  • Andrew Bolt: “Not one person predicted Kevin Rudd would resign as Foreign Affairs Minister. That’s how brilliant the move was.”

6.35am: Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has spoken to the Nine network this morning, saying that there would have been a leadership spill next week, even before Mr Rudd stepped down from his ministry position yesterday.

Mr Conroy says Mr Rudd does not have Labor values and that his behaviour during the 2010 election was an “absolute disgrace”.


6.30am: Australia’s ambassador to the United States, Kim Beazley, has sidestepped questions about the leadership dispute in the party he once led.

“These things all get worked out in Australia by people who are well and truly above my pay grade,” he said when asked about the dispute overnight.

6:20am: Labor Left powerbroker Doug Cameron, Trade Minister Craig Emerson and former Queensland premier Peter Beattie appeared on Lateline last night.

Senator Cameron spoke out in support of Mr Rudd, saying he did not think Ms Gillard was capable of defeating Tony Abbott in an election. Watch full interview.

Dr Emerson backed the Prime Minister, saying Mr Rudd’s campaign of destabilisation had to end. Watch interview highlights.

Mr Beattie says whoever loses the Labor leadership spill needs to “accept the decision, turn the page and get on with it”. Watch full interview.

6am: PM Julia Gillard is expected to hold a morning press conference in Adelaide to call a caucus ballot for Monday when Parliament resumes.

Overnight she criticised Mr Rudd over his sudden resignation as Foreign Minister, saying she was “disappointed” he did not speak to her before his announcement.

Mr Rudd will arrive back in Australia tomorrow.

Read chief political correspondent Emma Griffiths’ full wrap of yesterday’s events.


Topics:federal-government, alp, rudd-kevin, gillard-julia

First posted February 23, 2012 06:41:36

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