Kevin Rudd has been sworn in as Australia’s prime minister. But he has a ministry to fill, independents to appease and a Parliament majority to wrangle. Crikey covers the latest …
It’s Kevin Rudd’s first day in his second reign as prime minister. Crikey brought you a blow-by-blow of the days events.
4.20pm In the last 24 hours we’ve had a leadership spill, Kevin Rudd return from political oblivion to re-lead his party and watched the end of Julia Gillard’s political career. A list of ministers have announced they are leaving their positions — Wayne Swan, Greg Combet, Stephen Conroy — with other strong Labor ministers announcing they will resign at the next election — Craig Emerson, Peter Garrett, Stephen Smith.
And with all that to digest, we’ll end this live blog for today. Thanks for sticking with us, apologies for the typos and let’s start preparing for the Tony Abbott v Kevin Rudd election showdown.
4.15pm The ALP leadership spill dominated social media in Australia last night, with some official data coming in from @TwitterAU press release:
“There were more than 500,000 #spill-related Tweets yesterday, topping 5,000 per min as Kevin Rudd (@KRuddMP) defeated Julia Gillard (@JuliaGillard). Keywords included #Spill, #AusPol, #YouDecide9, Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd and other related terms.”
“#spill was also trending worldwide on Twitter last night.
“Top 3 Moments on Twitter during the #Spill:
“5,383 Tweets Per Minute at 7:54 PM AEST - Kevin Rudd wins leadership vote.
“2,251 Tweets Per Minute at 6:39PM AEST - Bill Shorten announces he will back Rudd in leadership vote.
“1,228 Tweets Per Minute at 5:16 PM AEST - Kevin Rudd announces he will contest Labor Party leadership”
4.10pm For the first time in Australian history we have a sitting Prime Minister, deputy prime minister and Senate leader — who have publicly stated their support of same sex marriage. But will a Rudd government legislate in favour of it? asks Drew Sheldon:
“In any case, Rudd voted against Labor MP Stephen Jones’ same-s-x marriage bill in September 2012. Whatever he might or might not have been saying privately, his public stance was clear. His change of heart last month raises plenty of questions about the issue’s future in Parliament. As we move towards the next election, the LGBTI community will be watching and hoping Rudd pledges to finish the work he began with his landmark same-s-x relationship reforms in 2008.
“It seems highly unlikely he would force Labor MPs to vote against their conscience on gay marriage in any future Parliament. He also said last month that he didn’t intend to take a leadership role on the issue, but that was as a backbencher and not as prime minister.”
4pm Pollster Gary Morgan from Roy Morgan Research appeared on 2UE this afternoon to discussing exactly how the polls have shifted since the ALP leadership spill. iSentia compiled a run-down of the interview:
“Morgan says last night a poll of 2,530 Australians indicated that on a two party preferred basis the LNP had 50.5% to 49.5% for the ALP. Morgan says the ALP’s party vote was 38%, a height it has not reached since Julia Gillard won the election. Morgan says the Liberal-Nationals were at 43%, with the Greens at 8.5% and others at 10.5%. Morgan breaks down the shift by state, with WA, Qld and SA jumping significantly toward [Kevin] Rudd, no change in Vic, and some change in Tas and SA [sic - SA cited in two categories]. Morgan says it will be interesting to see if Rudd will actually change the direction of the ALP, with many people ‘annoyed with them’. Morrison laments that some people care more about Kim Kardashian’s baby than about who runs the country, who may have been included in Roy Morgan Research’s very thorough sample. Morrison says Rudd looks and behaves like a Prime Minister and in the honeymoon period may well win back some people who would never vote for Gillard.”
3.55pm As Gillard herself acknowledged in her farewell speech last night, her gender played a role in her downfall but it wasn’t the whole story, reports Bernard Keane:
“Gillard’s mere existence, her presence in the prime ministership, her failure to conform to female stereotypes by being unmarried, childless and ambitious, pushed the buttons of the Right in a big way. Many reacted with froth-mouthed hatred.
“But as Gillard noted last night, gender doesn’t explain everything, nor does it explain nothing. Gillard repeatedly showed an unerring accuracy in shooting herself in the foot, without any help from her predecessor. Her media management, while not as in-your-face offensive as Rudd’s, was marked by a similar tone deafness. Communications director John McTernan’s arrival gave a much greater sense of strategy and coherence to Gillard’s government, but his tactical nous was increasingly found wanting. A major frustration for Labor was its inability to get voters to accept how strong the economy was, a problem exacerbated by the fact that treasurer Wayne Swan wasn’t — and would never pretend to be — the sort of cut-through communicator that Gillard at least was able to be for Rudd. The media had a significant role in that, constantly wondering why Labor couldn’t sell its economic message while ignoring Australia’s economic performance, particularly as Europe slid into depression and the US remained mired in despair. But, again, it was Gillard and Swan who insisted that they would return to surplus in 2013, insisted repeatedly, constantly, without caveat or equivocation.”
3.45pm And our former prime minister Julia Gillard walks out of Parliament for the very last time. A historic moment captured:
3.30pm When independent MP Rob Oakeshott gave his valedictory speech today, he brought the former PM to tears when revealing that he had texted her last night before the leadership vote to say that her father would have been proud of her.
“Love Will Tear Us Apart was playing in the caff where I was watching the Night of the Long Needles unfold. Were it any other song, I wouldn’t mention it, but God. The caucus call, the perp walk, Gillard going in with a posse, Rudd going in alone, I knew it was all over then. Shorten taking a quick presser looking a hundred years old. People were watching all over the world like this, it was playing on news sites everywhere. Mordant sound pouring out, vocals submerged beneath the noise: ‘When routine bites hard/And ambitions are low’. The first couplet perfect for the occasion, as indeed is every line in the whole damn song — ‘79 is Gillard’s vintage, not Rudd’s. That hippie is probably an Incredible String Band fan. Or Pentangle. Gillard in her smock, bopping at the Adelaide Student U refectory, maybe not. It’s a long way to 2013, the sharp hair, the schmick glasses, the poise and power. She began in an era when the Australian Union of Students was tearing itself apart over everything from abortion to Israel/Palestine, times of violence from Bob Santamaria’s NCC bully boys and the Left, passed through the Socialist Left during the great final years of the factional battles, and ended it in a political battle to the death against a man with near-identical policies, and supported by said right-wing backroom boys, factions against the ‘mass’.”
3.05pm Another federal minister is not re-contesting the next election, with Defence Minister Stephen Smith just announcing at question time that he will leave Parliament.
“I’m very grateful to the prime minister — Prime Minister Rudd and prime minister Gillard — it was a privilege to serve,” said Smith.
“When I was asked which other portfolio I’d like to be in charge of — I chose Defence,” he said. “I’ve had the good fortune of protecting and maintaining national security.”
“I think we’ve done some good things in those times,” said Smith. He mentions tightening of military relations with the United States, increase relationship with Africa, the 2013 military white paper and changes to defence culture.
“I will be the campaign director of the election campaign for the Labor candidate for Perth, and you should fear me more there than as the candidate for Perth,” said Smith.
He also saluted his close mates Stephen Conroy and Wayne Swan.
“Conroy is the bravest member of the Parliament that I know,” said Smith. “He has raw courage, raw integrity, raw decency and will not deviate from his principles.”
And an interesting piece of historical gossip from Sky News’ David Speers:
Defence is the final portfolio for so many Ministers…Moore, Reith, Nelson, Faulkner (unless he returns), Fitzgibbon (ditto).. now Smith
“More significant is that Rudd comes to the leadership unbound by any policy commitments, with a free hand and a blank slate. He repeated yesterday, when announcing his challenge, his mantra about being a Prime Minister of a country that makes things. With Kim Carr likely to return to the industry portfolio, expect a lurch into industry assistance, one intended to go much further in sharpening the difference between Labor and the Coalition on Australian jobs, a subject on which Labor still has some credibility with voters and that has some populist potential unexploited by Abbott.
“Rudd has already publicly mused about moving to an emissions trading scheme earlier, which would send the carbon price permit plummeting to far below the price per tonne of the Coalition’s risible Direct Action scheme. Suddenly the Coalition would be the party of the more costly carbon pricing scheme, and not in a subtle way only understood by policy wonks, but in the most obvious way, the price per tonne of carbon abatement.”
2.50pm Seems not everyone is thrilled by the political excitement in Canberra today:
School kids bobbing around in public gallery looking bored on this historic day
2.45pm Slightly confused how factions and faceless men work when it comes to bringing down a prime minister? Crikey’s senior journalist Andrew Crook breaks down exactly how the Victorian Labor Party came to be in this position — and what convinced Bill Shorten to switch his backing to Rudd:
… the pointy-end proclamation was in fact the end point of months of wailing within Victorian Labor that can be traced to Lyndhurst MP Tim Holding’s mysterious decision to quit politics in February, triggering a byelection in the apparently ultra-safe seat deep within Labor’s multicultural heartland. Martin Pakula — the National Union of Workers-aligned upper house MP with strong leadership credentials — quickly threw his hat in the ring for the gig.
“In Victoria, long considered Gillard’s ‘rock’, the thinking within Shorten’s Australian Workers Union circle was always that Labor could safely hold onto the crown jewels even if the rest of the country was aflame with anti-Gillard pathos.
“When the Lyndhurst returns started trickling in on April 27, party powerbrokers were horrified.”
2.35pm With Rudd essentially ruling out an election date of September 14, due to the cross-over with Yom Kippur, Ten journalist Stephen Spencer offers up the other most likely dates:
The ONLY available dates for an election, on Rudd’s rules (excluding grand finals) are Aug 31, Sept 21 then Oct 13 or later.
2.30pm Former Victorian Labor MP Mary Delahunty — whose timing for these thing is impeccable, since she was in our nation’s capital for the non-spill earlier this year (she wrote about it for Crikey here) — wrote today about what it was like to watch yesterday’s events unfold:
“5.15pm: late again, Rudd finally makes a statement. ‘The Australian people want me …’
“It’s really on. Someone in the PM’s office turns on gentle music.
“At 6pm news services around the country bewilder Australians with another ballot.
“Shorten made his announcement — a dramatic switch at Rudd — at 6.38pm. Staff groan in the PM’s office. A young female voice calls ‘shame’ at the TV screen; another quietly delivers his assessment of the new reality with the usual Australian expletive.
“A senator leaves the office. How will it go? ‘Badly.’ Another caucus supporter, drawn and sombre, leaves the back way”
2.20pm It’s been a busy few months for new Treasurer Chris Bowen, as Sunday Telegraph journalist Samantha Maiden points out:
Chris Bowen has dropped the immigration portfolio, lost 13 kilos and gained the Treasury + first book since January. Swings and roundabouts
2pm It appears that PM Kevin Rudd will be changing the date of the election, with Rudd still to consult with his cabinet over when it will occur. Rudd noted that the current election coincidences with the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and that only a certain amount of dates are available within the constitution and the election will fall on one of them.
Meanwhile, new deputy PM Anthony Albanese is apparently covering nearly every ministry at the moment, taking questions for climate change and tertiary education.
1.45pmIt’s valedictory speech time, with independent MP Rob Oakeshott taking to the stand with both Gillard and Oakeshott’s four children there to watch him.
“I support the words being made from everyone, you do do a valuable job, there is a great spirit and camaraderie The confidentiality is something we should not take lightly and appreciate it in my five years in this place and something I hope continues and is respected,” said Oakeshott.
“It has been 17 years in public life. It has been six elections. Five years here. There has been three at the front end of this under the pump from all of you. 585 bills that have been negotiated through this place. 300 private members’ motions and bills. An awful lot of committee work.
“The moment is right for me.
“I’m basically a bit tired and a curious mind has explored this place and looking for new challenges.”
Fairfax photographer Andrew Meares snaps Gillard during one key moment of Oakeshott’s speech:
12.45pm MP Bill Shorten, who played a key role in first bringing Julia Gillard to power and then ensuring her defeat yesterday when he announced he would vote for Kevin Rudd, spoke with ABC 774 this morning about his decision:
“For the last three weeks I have been debating with myself but talking to lots and lots of people from all weeks of life. My final decision was made when the prime minister spilled the leadership decision. It was extremely difficult. I believe, as I say, wrestling this for 2-3 weeks. For three years I’ve completely supported our prime minister. I do believe she was the only person with the skills and capacity to accomplish what we’ve accomplished with a minority government. I also recognise that Labor was looking at a prospect of being well defeated … These things happen, you win and you lose, but more important that that I cannot believe that it is in the interests of Australian democracy or Australian people or the people of my electorate in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne that the coalition and the conservative view of the world represented by Tony Abbott should control the Senate and the house of representatives and have unlimited power in Australian.”
Shorten was then asked if it hurt him to reward an MP who had been so critical and destabilising to the government. He replied:
“Yesterday and today have been incredibly difficult but difficult because I can see the strengths and the merits of both Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. I know that for me to have said I will support Kevin Rudd as leader means I will lose some friends. I also know there will be people who really disagree. But I also know that in politics you need to be true to yourself above all else. I know that it isn’t just about me or Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd, it’s about what elected representatives think is in the best interests of the country.”
12.30pm Watch Rudd and Opposition leader Tony Abbott address Parliament just a few minutes ago to discuss the ousting of Julia Gillard from the top job.
12.25pm Former Fairfax turned Guardian columnist David Marr — and author of the infamous Quarterly Essay Power Trip: The Political Journey of Kevin Rudd — has written today about our new PM:
“But at the height of his popularity the flaws began to show. He was a micro-manager who found it hard to make up his mind; a national leader with a passion for fine detail, and a big thinker with a short attention span. His office was chaotic. He was impatient with his ministers, thoughtlessly rude to senior bureaucrats and foul-tempered with his staff. He sent distinguished figures out on great missions and had no time for them when they returned.
…It turned out that Rudd couldn’t bear to be disliked. He was oddly unwilling to draw on the bank of goodwill at his disposal. He saw himself as an agent of transformative change but in practice he was a trimmer. Reverses knocked him about badly. He wasn’t resilient.”
Won’t somebody think of Reuben? After giving her farewell speech last night, Gillard spoke to her staff. As James Massola reports in The Australian Financial Review:
“With a glass of red wine in hand, she invited them back to the Lodge for a drink and asked them to help her break the news to her cavoodle, Ruben, that he was no longer the first dog.”
12.15pm Tony Abbott has officially ruled out putting forward a motion of no confidence in the government.
12.10pm Opposition Leader Tony Abbott also fronted up in Parliament to speak about the removal of Julia Gillard as prime minister.
“I commiserate with the former prime minister for what happened to her last night,” said Abbott.
It should be noted that neither Gillard nor Wayne Swan are in Parliament today.
“Politics is … far more brutal than it needs to be,” said Abbott. “The Australian people need to select a leader, not the faceless men.
“Why was she dragged down last night? … This is a fraught moment in the life of our nation, a prime minister had been dragged down, her replacement owes the Australian people and the Australian Parliament an explanation.
“Again, I congratulate the Prime Minister on his restoration of the high office, may he elevate that office and he would best elevate that office by explaining the events of last night and by telling the Australian people, when will they get to decide who holds the high office of this country.”
At the end of Abbott’s speech, Joe Hockey yelled “is that it?!”. Labor backbenchers respond with: “where’s the motion of no confidence?”.
Meanwhile, former climate change minister Greg Combet and departing independent MP Tony Windsor are having a discussion at Combet’s backbench seat.
12.05pm Rudd is addressing the House of Representatives, noting that he has been sworn in as the new Prime Minister after being re-elected as Labor leader last night. He began his speech by paying tribute to Julia Gillard, by acknowledging her “great achievements” regarding the Fair Work Act, the My School website and Gonksi reforms.
He also noted her role as the first female prime minister. “I acknowledge her great work as a standard bearer for Australian women,” said Rudd.
Rudd went on to acknowledge the “strong work” done by former treasurer Wayne Swan.
He ended his speech on a more personal note regarding politeness and decency in politics, calling for a “kind and gentler” parliament.
“Speaker, as we all know in this place, political life is a very hard life. A very hard life indeed,” said Rudd. “Occasionally, it can be kind. More often, it is not.
“Let us all remember, particularly in times like this, that in this parliament, we are all human beings. We all have families, we all have emotions. Let us try, just try to be a little kinder and gentler with each other for the further proceedings in this parliament.”
12pm The Governor-General’s office has released the letter from Julia Gillard resigning from the position of prime minister as she is no longer leader of the Australian Labor Party, plus the letter from Kevin Rudd asking to be re-instated as prime minister. Click through to read the whole letters.
Rudd also notes that he will address the House of Representatives at midday today regarding his appointment.
Labor MPs gathering in the chamber for Rudd’s statement and are having to consult a seating plan to determine who sits where. There’s a dramatically smaller front bench, with a large number of ministers still to be determined.
11.45am Over at New Matilda, Ben Eltham writes of the move away from policy to presidential-style elections in the last few years:
“Australia’s representative democratic system is based on parties, and parties can and do change their leaders. Even so, Australian election campaigns are increasingly presidential, and voters are primarily asked to lend their support to leaders, rather than parties, or, heaven forbid, policies.
“The Kevin07 campaign, for instance, was based in many respects on Bill Clinton’s 1992 playbook, and Rudd’s presence was inescapable during the 2007 campaign. In 2010, Gillard’s troubled campaign lurched from honeymoon to the “real Julia” in a matter of weeks. It wasn’t pretty, but it wasn’t particularly policy-focused either.”
11.40am Want a behind-the-scenes look at how Crikey is covering the leadership change in Canberra? Rob Burgess has tweeted a photo of senior journalist Andrew Crook madly filing stories from Parliament House corridors today.
Meanwhile, the Crikey bunker is littered with pizza boxes and coke bottles. Ah, the glamour.
11.25am Will Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2013 be any different from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2010? Gabrielle Chan from The Hoopla explores the personality issues that Rudd has faced, and queries whether he will be able to overcome that.
“‘Of course Rudd is mad,’ one of his supporters told me. ‘But did you ever meet Keating?’
“In fact I did meet Paul Keating and he wasn’t a patch on Kevin.
“Rudd’s personality flaws are legendary around Canberra. Everyone has a Kevin story. The workaholic. The control freak. The egocentric. The late night texting. And late. Always keeping people waiting.
“Then outside the prime minister’s office: his leaking, the constant destabilizing, when Cabinet information detrimental to Julia Gillard mysteriously fell into press gallery hands.
“It nearly derailed the former prime minister in the 2010 election and arguably gave her the hung Parliament that he now inherits.
“The key question then is, has he changed?”
11.15am Turns out Aussies care more about rugby league and home renovations than who is running the country. Glenn Dyer’s TV metro ratings from last night show the top shows as:
State of Origin Game(Nine) — 2.445 million
State of Origin pre-match (Nine) — 1.777
The Block (Nine) — 1.504 million
Nine News — 1.339 million ****
A Current Affair (Nine) — 1.295 million
Plus, this graph from iSentia shows the media mentions of federal political issues from June 21 until June 27. The leadership issue has dominated the media (yes, pot calling the kettle black right now):
And we bow down in amazement at Allen & Unwin for getting a book out on the downfall of Julia Gillard within 18 hours of it happening. This press release landed in our inbox this morning:
“Allen & Unwin is pleased to announce the early publication of Kerry-Anne Walsh’s The Stalking of Julia Gillard: How the media and Team Rudd contrived to bring down the Prime Minister.
“Rob Oakeshott MP, independent Member for Lyne, will launch the book at 10.30 for 11.00 am (sharp) on Tuesday 2 July on The Terrace, Level 3, Allen & Unwin, 83 Alexander Street, Crows Nest.”
“Gillard made a late-night visit to Governor General Quentin Bryce to offer her resignation and recommend Rudd be reinstated as prime minister, three years and two days after he was dumped by the party.”
The leadership change was important enough to land itself on the front page of The Jakarta Post this morning:
10.52am Advertising guru — and co-founder of Destroy the Joint — Jane Caro has a great article in The Guardian today discussing how the Australian public held Gillard to standards we don’t expect men to uphold:
Gillard’s problem is that she, like all the rest us, is just a flawed human being. Despite our desire for messiahs, if we’re honest or – dare I say – grown up, it’s the best we can ever get in our leaders. It is my observation, however, after a lifetime spent watching, studying and writing about women and power, that the problem for female leaders is that we are still not yet ready to give them the space to be merely human. We allow them an either/or position only. They can either be inspirational and amazing or terrible, dreadful, the worst we’ve ever had. For women, the difficulty is that there is no middle ground. If you get to the top you better prove you deserve to be there, girlie.
10.35am Let’s take a look at how the rest of the world has been reporting the downfall of Australia’s prime minister by her own party. Crikey intern Bension Siebert has put this together:
For NBC World News, the story was about the ousting of a country’s first female prime minister, internationally recognised for her “misogyny speech”:
“Julia Gillard, the Australian prime minister hailed as a feminist icon after a fiery speech against “sexism and misogyny” in politics, was dumped from office by her own party Wednesday.
“The country’s first female leader lost a dramatic political gamble by calling a leadership vote in a bid to end internal dissent in her Labor Party, which polls suggest is heading for defeat in imminent elections.”
“Okay, it’s true, intra-party disputes in Australia don’t usually grab headlines up north. But the news today that Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been ousted as leader of the country’s Labor Party in favor of Kevin Rudd is actually pretty interesting — with potentially broader implications for climate-change policy in the years ahead.”
“The truth is we are on course for a catastrophic defeat unless there is change”, declared the former diplomat [Rudd], who speaks fluent Mandarin and whose authoritarian temperament earned him acrimony during his three years as leader of the country.” (translation)
New York Times
“… Rudd had been derided during his tenure for an authoritarian leadership style. But Ms. Gillard has seen her poll ratings plummet since announcing in January, unusually early, that federal elections would be held in September.”
10.30amCrikey media reporter Matthew Knott has been taking a look at how the press gallery have covered the events of the last 18 hours. He writes:
It’s not just a big day for Kevin Rudd: the day after a leadership spill allows the fiercely competitive members of the Canberra commentariat to show off their analytical skills.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher, who is seen as close to Rudd, reckons Tony Abbott will be ruing the demise of Julia Gillard. “Suddenly, Abbott faces an opponent far more popular than himself,” concludes Hartcher. “The Opposition Leader’s assured run to election victory has been radically disrupted.”
According to The Australian’s Peter van Onselen, Rudd’s return “must go down as the greatest comeback in Australian political history.” PVO’s thesis is that Rudd will now run as an “anti-Labor Labor candidate” and will seek a fresh mandate to “fix” the party.
Dennis Shanahan, however, doesn’t forsee Rudd sweeping to victory at the next election. “Rudd knows that any polling improvement is likely to be a ‘sugar hit’ — a quick response that won’t last. Rudd also realises that Labor’s problems are not only a result of Gillard’s leadership but also ingrained disappointment among voters with Labor’s policies and implementation of those policies,” Shanahan writes.
Also at The Oz, Paul Kelly concludes Gillard’s demise has largely been of her own making. “It was Gillard’s failures and untenable polls that drove once-reluctant waverers into Rudd’s arms,” intones the press gallery doyen. “Rudd must become a master of improvisation — an internal healer, a political plumber who keeps the ship afloat and a persuasive salesman who fronts a discredited government.” But Kelly warns Rudd’s broken promise not to challenge will offer the Coalition ample ammunition to attack him.
For another icon of political reporting, the transition is likely to be too little too late. “Labor has finally made the decision it ought to have taken long ago, but the counter-revolution has been extremely bloody and there are bodies all over the place,” writes The Conversation’s Michelle Grattan. “It is a great pity they did not have the political nous and hard headedness to realise a year ago that he was their best option. Labor’s prospects would be much better.”
10.25am Here’s a charming photo of grandpa Rudd introducing granddaughter Josephine to Quentin Bryce this morning (a round of applause for Bryce’s glorious contrasting asymmetrical blazer as well).
10.05am Here’s a look at the front pages from around the country today. The Daily Telegraph’s “Sweet Kevenge” is winning the Crikey award for best/worst headline.
9.57am Now it’s off for the official photo with the Governor-General on the steps of Government House.
9.56am Christopher Miles Bowen has been sworn in as Treasurer. He’s gone for a bright red tie for the big day. Must be a welcome change from his immigration minister days …
9.55am Anthony Norman (!) Albanese has now been sworn in as Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Minister for Regional Development and Local Government, as well as deputy prime minister. In tie news: he’s wearing red and dark coloured stripes.
9.50am Kevin Michael Rudd is now Prime Minister of Australia. Wearing a pale blue tie, Rudd brought his own bible to be sworn in again as Prime Minister by Governor-General Quentin Bryce.
“I’ve done this wrong before,” said Rudd, as he tried to figure out exactly where he was supposed to sign his names on the very formal looking bits of paper.
9.45am As Kevin Rudd, Anthony Albanese and Chris Bowen (plus loved ones) squeeze into Government House in Yarralumla to be sworn in by the best-dressed Governor-General this country has ever seen.
The rest of the cabinet is not being sworn in today — that will come later, when Rudd finalises his ministry. However, expect Environment Minister Tony Burke — a strong Gillard backer — tol be amongst them.
Last February Bourke accused Rudd of orchestrating a campaign undermining the former prime minister. But today on ABC’s AM this morning he revealed that he tried to resign last night but Rudd refused it:
“I’d always said that if there was a change of leadership that I’d offer my resignation. I actually had that waiting on my desk, I wasn’t surprised by the numbers when they came out at the caucus meeting, I delivered that to Kevin Rudd as Labor leader after the meeting.
“Late last night I had a phone calling from him saying he didn’t intend to accept the resignation and he wanted me to stay on. I also had a long conversation with Julia Gillard who was pretty unimpressed that I’d put in that resignation and was asking me to stay on.
“I’ll wait for Kevin to work out how he wants to do the full shuffle and what roles he wants people to have. But having offered and having it rejected in a fairly emphatic way, my view is that we need to have a whole lot of us who are part of the healing and I’m prepared to be part of it.”
Is this because of the Murray Darling Basin Plan, a huge and difficult policy that the states are in the process of agreeing to?
Meanwhile, our new/old first lady Therese Rein is sitting in the front row of Government House, resplendent in a hot pink, orange, gold and black patterned jacket, sitting next to soon-to-be deputy prime minister Anthony Albanese.
9.25am A fascinating interview by strong former Julia Gillard supporter Penny Wong this morning on Radio National with Fran Kelly. Wong is the new leader of the Senate and called the decision to back Rudd over Gillard “the most difficult decision of my political life”.
“I had to decide who I thought would offer the best contest at the next election against Tony Abbott, a man who I don’t believe is worthy to be prime minister of this nation,” said Wong.
“So last week I privately weighed up those two loyalties [the Labor Party and Julia Gillard] and regrettably came to the view they were no longer aligned.”
“Yesterday I made the personal decision I could no longer support Prime Minister Gillard. I met with her to advise her of that fact and it was the most difficult decision of my political life.”
She paid personal tribute to Gillard calling her “a remarkable woman. A great Labor champion and she’s changed the nation.”
Meanwhile, Rudd has just arrived at Government House to be sworn in as Prime Minister.
“The prime ministership of Julia Gillard began hopefully, with the first polling indicating cautious endorsement of her coup against Kevin Rudd and a measure of excitement about the emergence of Australia’s first female prime minister.
“Essential Research found a clear but not overwhelming majority of respondents in support of the takeover (47% against; 40% opposed), while Labor’s primary vote surged back into the 40s after a period in the doldrums.
“In hindsight, it can be seen that Gillard’s strong early ratings were mostly indicative of the shallow impressions that emerge in ‘honeymoon’ polling, an early taste of which was offered by last night’s instant Morgan SMS poll showing the effective disappearance of the Coalition’s enormous lead.”
8.26am Penny Wong — the first female to lead a government in the Senate, after running for the post unopposed last night following the resignation of Stephen Conroy — was on Radio National this morning praising the former PM while spruiking the new one. iSentia captures the conversation with Fran Kelly:
“Wong says Gillard is a ‘remarkable woman’, and has achieved great things through a carbon price, education reforms and DisabilityCare. She says personal attacks on Gillard were supported by the opposition. She says she voted for Kevin Rudd in the ballot because he is more likely to defeat Tony Abbott, who Wong does not believe is worthy of being Prime Minister. Wong says Australia is a better place because of Labor governments. She discusses her opinion of Wayne Swan as a ‘great treasurer’. Wong says she did not speak with Rudd ahead of the vote, and her position as government leader in the senate is ‘absolutely not’ a reward.”
8.25am We’re back, along with Kevin Rudd. Want to read how a remarkable day in Australian political history unfolded? Crikey covered it live — read the minute-by-minute updates …