The tensions between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd are threatening to escalate into real damage to the government.

Ask the Liberals what this sort of feud does. They endured it with Howard and Costello, which made John Howard’s last 18 months in office look like an extended bout of introspection by a party supposedly running the country. They endured persistent leadership speculation under Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull.

There’s nothing particularly subtle about the Gillard-Rudd feud. Gillard tries to airbrush Rudd out of Labor history. Rudd “retaliates” by pointedly including Gillard in his own speech, and cultivates same-sex union advocates. The Gillard camp retaliate themselves by leaking the confidential sections of the Faulkner-Bracks-Carr report that are most damaging to Rudd, then very publicly overruling him on the Australia Network process.

It’s unseemly and, more to the point, immensely counter-productive. One assumes Labor learnt from its wretched 2010 election campaign that this sort of sniping inflicts more damage on the party as a whole than on any individual MP. But, apparently, not.

Time for the Gillard and Rudd camps to act like adults.

Peter Fray

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