Today’s main event – Labor’s leadership battle
Revenge. Bitter sweet. Former Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd is out to get what was stolen from him 18 months ago… The Australian Prime Ministership. Tony Salerno reports.
On June 24 2010 Kevin Rudd was silently dismissed from head office as Prime Minister (PM), courtesy of the current PM Julia Gillard. Rudd held an emotional press conference to inform the public of his dismissal, although failing to mention the reason for his departure and Gillard’s elevation to the top job.
The peculiar incident set off alarm bells into the potential skeletons in the Labor government’s closet. This marked the first dirty laundry between the bitter rivals Rudd and Gillard.
Rudd revealed all about 18 months later. In a Queensland press conference, Kevin Rudd told of the midnight coup, which spelt the end of his reign as PM.
“I was given no notice,” Rudd said.
Rudd said Gillard swore her allegiance three times saying that she would not challenge for the top job. Rudd said he tried to reconcile with Gillard before she stormed into the room shouting “ALL BETS ARE OFF I’M CHALLENGING!”
During the same press conference Rudd slammed the ALP, repeatedly referring to them as “faceless men” and even accusing Gillard of lying.
Reports suggest that Gillard is threatening the cabinet members’ pre-selections. The PM has made it clear, if the cabinet members do not vote for her, they will no longer work for her. Rudd criticised this blackmail, saying: “It is not the Australian way.”
“I see the same awe and tactics I saw in 2010,” Rudd recently told the Australian public.
However Rudd’s tenure as PM was no easy task. He entered the hot seat as the world was entering the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008-2009. Rudd’s greatest political asset was that he managed to avoid the GFC, at a time when most world economies suffered considerably.
The provision of the stimulus package was an effective quick-fix option but was no reprieve for the pool of budget deficit Rudd was drowning Australia in.
Fast forward 18 months down the road and two broken promises later, the tables have turned.
Gillard’s popularity is plummeting insurmountably against the favouritism fireball of the Foreign Minister. Independent MP Andrew Wilkie slammed Julia Gillard in a Sky News interview last week saying: “Julia Gillard broke her promise on the poker machine tax.”
“I would prefer to work with Mr Kevin Rudd,” he added.
However, Wilkie is not the only independent publicising his fidelity. Independent MP Tony Windsor told Sky News that he does not believe Kevin Rudd was suitable for a minority government.
With two independents divided, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, who worked closely with Rudd, says that if Rudd was voted back into office she would have no intentions of working with him.
“I doubt I would be given the opportunity, but if I was I would not take it,” the Attorney-General said.
The backbone of Gillard’s campaign was the infamous carbon tax, in which she punished Australia’s commodity market and mining sectors in the process.
However, her political plummet was due to her promising a prevention of a carbon tax before she took over the Prime Ministership. Opposition leader Tony Abbott recently blamed Gillard’s carbon tax for the industrial redundancy, which forced Qantas to cut 500 jobs in Avalon and Brisbane.
Still undecided… time will tell.
Gillard has also been heavily scrutinised for how her cabinet has handled the issue of immigration. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen was said to have been submitting an application for treasurer should a ‘new’ Labor candidate arise for the Prime Ministership.
Fast track a week later it would appear that Labor backbenchers were plotting the demise of their Labor leader and adding ammunition for a Rudd challenge.
The YouTube clip titled ‘Kevin Rudd is a happy little vegemite’ was uploaded, depicting cut scenes of Rudd swearing in between delivering a speech in Mandarin to Chinese associates. The video was submitted by an anonymous source and Gillard denied being associated with the episode. However given the circumstances and timing of the release it is difficult to give the benefit of the doubt. Silent sabotage seems to be the tactic of Gillard.
Last Friday, the PM attempted to sway the public, issuing a short statement stating: “I have carried out reforms which languish against my predecessor.”
She continued to highlight Rudd’s flaws and reminded the public of why she was voted into the hot seat at the expense of Rudd.
“The individual with the best strength, temperament, courage and character will win. The winner is who is believed to make the best decisions under adversity.”
Both Gillard and Rudd have resorted to underhand tactics and low blows to show they are the best candidate to lead the country.
“…this is not celebrity Big Brother, it is the Prime Ministership of Australia,” Gillard said.
The war of words is over and the fate of both Gillard and Rudd rests with the Australian Labor party.