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Feb 20, 2012

Rudd v Gillard: game on

Crikey media wrap: A showdown now seems inevitable: Kevin "the Comeback Kid" Rudd versus Julia "strong confidence of my colleagues" Gillard. After weeks of leadership rumblings, it became clear on the weekend that a full scale leadership battle had broken out.


A showdown now seems inevitable: Kevin “the Comeback Kid” Rudd versus Julia “strong confidence of my colleagues” Gillard. After weeks of leadership rumblings, it became clear on the weekend that a full scale leadership battle had broken out.

Will Kevin Rudd challenge? Does he have the numbers? Will Gillard call his bluff and sack him?

Michelle Grattan in The Age evoked images of war when writing about the events of the weekend:

“Labor’s leadership battle is moving inexorably towards a confrontation after an extraordinary weekend of open warfare between the forces of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and aspirant Kevin Rudd.

Labor’s right faction is calling on Gillard to challenge Rudd, since current numbers indicate she would win.

A heavily edited video of Kevin Rudd — shot during his time as PM while he attempted to record a Chinese New Year speech, showing him swearing and frustrated — was released anonymously on YouTube over the weekend.

After the release of the video, Rudd gave a last-minute interview to Sky News before jetting off to Mexico for a G20 conference. He used the opportunity to tell his colleagues how much he’s changed — Rudd’s domineering leadership style was widely criticised when he was PM:

“The bottom line is, I think you do learn. And what I’ve tried to learn from all of that is, do less in a given working day rather than try to do everything. I think that’s an important principle for everybody. I think it’s also important to delegate more and be sort of happy and contented about that. And on top of that, most importantly, consult more broadly as well.

You speak to my colleagues in the Department of Foreign Affairs or in my own office or elsewhere, other foreign ministerial colleagues, they’ll give you a judgement as to whether things have changed or not. I’m just telling you what I’ve reflected on, and I hope I’m a bit better for it. But I don’t think I could claim to be Mother Teresa at this stage mate.”

The video will help Rudd, says Peter Hartcher in The Sydney Morning Herald:

“The video helped bring the leadership contest out of the shadows and into the open. It was such an obvious attempt to harm Rudd that it outraged some of his supporters in the Labor caucus.”

At least one of his old colleagues is openly backing him. Darren Cheeseman, the Labor MP of Coorangamite, the country’s most marginal seat, called for Gillard’s resignation. “Kevin is the right person to lead Australia,” said Cheeseman, noting that Rudd was the most popular politician in the country. “There’s just so much feedback out there from my community, including long-time Labor supporters, that they’re not going to vote for Labor while she’s the Prime Minister.”

But others are not so positive. Labor MP Steve Gibbons also chimed in with his opinion of the leadership squabble in this tweet sent yesterday: “Only a psychopath with a giant ego would line up again after being comprehensively rejected by the overwhelming majority of colleagues.”

Rudd had a “chaotic and deeply offensive style of leadership”, said Gibbons in a statement released yesterday:

“Federal Labor cannot afford to adopt the strategies of the NSW branch of the party in regularly changing leaders just because the going gets a bit rough.

Being in government especially under the current circumstance is extremely difficult and no place for prima donnas who have had their chance.”

Independent Andrew Wilkie also spoke publicly about the leadership squabbles, saying that he and Rudd had spoken for 90 minutes last November and covered the issue of a leadership change, and that he would find it easier to work with Rudd.

Labor has to deal with this ASAP, argues Dennis Shanahan in The Australian:

“Julia Gillard is impotent as Prime Minister, government ministers are distracted and business and consumer uncertainty is damaging a fragile recovery.”

Gillard needs to call a challenge, says Katherine Murphy in The Age:

“What I see is this: Julia Gillard should come back to Canberra for the parliamentary sitting week at the end of February and spill the leadership. She should ask her colleagues, with humility and courage, to give her her job back. She should seek what she’s lacked from the moment she deposed Rudd in June 2010: just cause. The Prime Minister should seek a mandate to be the prime minister.”

This can’t be seen as another coup, writes Laura Tingle in the Australian Financial Review:

“With hostilities between the supporters of Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd finally emerging over the weekend, the anger in the ALP is not just about mutual accusations of bastardy, but about how events are both crippling the government and damaging Labor’s standing with voters even further.

The only way a switch back to Kevin Rudd will work for Labor electorally is if it can be portrayed as not just another back-room coup, but as a move taken in deference to the will of voters. If a change occurs and it looks like the ALP is ­panicking once again, the gamble will not work.”

The Herald Sun‘s Andrew Bolt offers up a list of things Rudd can do to help win the next election. For example: defer the carbon tax, cut spending, scrap the media inquiry and reopen Nauru:

“Sure, there’s much more I want done, but this is stuff Rudd could do and still claim to be Labor.

I can’t promise it will win him an election win, and I can be sure it would ease my growing alarm.”

It’s the public service that fears Rudd leadership the most, writes David Marr in The Sydney Morning Herald:

“With the polls in his favour and Labor fearful for its future, it seems the only hurdle to Rudd’s return to office is the old suspicion of Canberra, the verdict of those who have lived and worked with him, who know a man the public never sees.”

But it’s ultimately a pointless debate since Labor is doomed to lose, says Chris Kenny in The Australian:

“Arguing over whether Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd should lead the ALP to the next election is a bit like debating whether Thelma or Louise should be in the driver’s seat — when the car is going over the cliff anyway.”

Meanwhile, the Queensland election campaign kicked off over the weekend. Premier Anna Bligh is unimpressed that the federal Labor leadership battle is already clouding her campaign. “I don’t care how they resolve it, I just want it resolved,” said Bligh. “The sooner this is resolved one way or the other, the better.”


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46 thoughts on “Rudd v Gillard: game on

  1. ScottMC

    A big showdown amongst goats. Who really cares?

  2. Stephen

    Malcolm Turnbull?

    But, meanwhile, Rudd couldn’t possibly do worse, even if he shouts at the well-paid civil servants and neglects his in-tray.

    Somebody should write the very short book, of politicians that could have been prime minister, but had the grace to realise they weren’t up for it and decline.

    That’s the book that Gillard should have been in.

  3. Son of foro

    Jeez, they’ve been keeping this quiet.

  4. guytaur

    The Media cries Game On!
    Media prophecy not a good record.
    We will see. So far not buying the hype.

  5. Johnfromplanetearth

    The circus is in town. KRudd the megalomaniac has returned, the plastic fantastic politician without a policy to save his life, now he wants to terrorise his colleagues once again and be the top dog, the big man, numero uno honcho, the head cheese, the big chief, el supremo etc etc. KRudd’s ego is out of control!
    Australia is a laughing stock with this inept Government fighting amongst itself and having no idea what is going on in the real world. It goes from one blunder to another daily, it’s a ship without a rudder and is on a rollercoaster ride to nowhere.
    Never in Australian political history have we ever seen this from a Government.

  6. cannedheat

    If Rudd comes back from the dead it will be good for Labor. The public perception is he was rolled unfairly. The reality is he was rolled by both billionaires and backroom bastard boofheads.

    Bill Clinton was an eegit to work for (perhaps a bad example given the influence peddling but I hope you get the idea). Labor needs an actual leader not a school headmistress with delusions to an MBA.

    If Rudd gets the gig hopefully the Libs will bring back Turnbull and we can all get on with our lives.

  7. Bill Parker

    “And which person for Prime Minister, Gillard or Rudd, do you prefer?” thus goes the survey question.

    The least worst.

  8. Ray Smith

    If Labor falls for media hype and goes for KRudd then poor fool them when the media’s bias is what has brought Gillard down, just remember Murdoch needs a win after NOTW debacle.

  9. Patriot

    Hoist with her own petard in the last weeks:

    -2012 Australia Day Race Riot incited by her office.
    -Disastrous Four Corners interview.
    -Lіe about being ambushed in disastrous Four Corners interview.
    -Leak swearing tape.

    She is finished. A fitting end for our worst Prime Minister ever.

  10. GeeWizz

    [“A big showdown amongst goats. Who really cares?”]

    Yeah it’s only the future of our nation…. I personally think Dillard should do the right thing and call an early election and let the punters decide.

  11. GeeWizz

    [“The Media cries Game On!
    Media prophecy not a good record.
    We will see. So far not buying the hype.”]


  12. linda

    How come the rivalry for the leadership that went on for YEARS between Howard & Costello was never charactersised by media as making that government “dysfunctional”. Seems to me this gvernment is functioning just fine – have acheived far more than Howard or Rudd regimes did – but the press gallery just cant bear that they were behind the game for the last leadership change – so they are darned well going to be in at the kill for this one – even if they have to manufacture it themselves.
    Shallow times…..

  13. GeeWizz

    [“How come the rivalry for the leadership that went on for YEARS between Howard & Costello was never charactersised by media as making that government “dysfunctional”.”]

    Probably because Howard was the mesiah and no one likes Costello?

    Even when it was obvious the Libs were going to get flogged at the election they couldn’t be bothered with Costello.

  14. geomac

    Now it seems clearer why Rudd squibbed a party room vote .
    What has anything you listed got to do with say a means test on the health rebate or good governance ? Howard lost 6 or 8 ministers in his first term and took 4 years to look like he belonged in the job . I would get cramp in my fingers if I tried to list the various blunders and deceptions howard and his cabinet did .
    The media has kept this speculation going in part because it was out of the loop when Rudd was challenged and resigned .Strange that anyone would contemplate a Rudd return when its the PM who has got the runs on the board when it comes to actually getting legislation passed and implementing Labor policy .
    Rudd should either challenge or state without equivocation that he is not . If he cannot do this then he should go to the back bench . Howard and Keating did it and came back later why can,t Rudd ?

  15. guytaur

    Geewizz you and your like minded colleagues convince no one.
    We know you will vote Labor when it will protect you from being probed by an alien and not before.

  16. GeeWizz

    [“Strange that anyone would contemplate a Rudd return when its the PM who has got the runs on the board when it comes to actually getting legislation passed and implementing Labor policy .
    Rudd should either challenge or state without equivocation that he is not . If he cannot do this then he should go to the back bench “]

    If Gillard won’t give him his job back he should resign from parliament and force a by-election in Griffith.

    Let the Queenslanders sort Gillard out

  17. Karen

    @ Linda – agree – Gillard’s legislative history in the time she’s been in beats Rudd ‘s record and IF she lasts full-term and keeps pushing everything through, will beat Hawke/Keating on big ‘reform agenda’ items. Far from being our worst PM (if you read the likes of Patriot, Wizz/TTH), she’ll be our best.

    Unfortunately, the Establishment don’t like her and want her out because they don’t trust her progressive direction and they’re using their own megaphone media to drive public sentiment that leads to poor polls and then the inevitable leadership instability. To think that another PM is going to be given the heave, ho on the back of marginal seat polls – what a joke, this country has become!

    Yep, even if Gillard survives the spill, the media won’t let it go, until they murder her like a latter day of Joan of Arc (hopefully, she’ll be martyred, like her).

    And then we’ll be left with two pschopaths running the show and competing for power and delivering ‘business as usual’ and tax payer money to the capos and the upper middle class managers who run their companies.

    Who will be left to organise, manage and actually run Govt – because Gillard, lets face it, was our de facto PM and did it when that micro-managing control freak, Rudd was out of the country, which was most of the time.

  18. guytaur

    Simon Crean Gillard loyalist today mapped out what is going to happen on Melb Abc Radio.
    This proves why the media is wrong.
    Rudd will not challenge until he has numbers. Gillard may sack him. Challenge. Nope.

  19. Patriot


    What has it to do with good governance? You can’t govern or lead effectively when you aren’t seen as the best person for the job and don’t have the support of your colleagues. Nor when you are spending much of your time concocting grubby, dishonest smears just to hang on to your position. Nor when you are banning note taking in meetings and viewing any dissent with paranoia.

  20. jmendelssohn

    I’m curious that no one has noticed that the main reason why the Rudd government didn’t get much legislation through was Steve Fielding’s position in the Senate. The Gillard government only needs to deal with the Greens in the upper house, and the combination of independents and Greens in the House of Representatives is less toxic than the old Senate.
    I’m finding the spin from Simon Crean et al and that ‘disinterested’ commentator Graham Richardson particularly nauseating. They aren’t the solution: they were part of the original problem.

  21. Savonrepus

    Leadership is not about letting an agency you run including the ABC trapping you into fooling yourself. Leadership is not about telling everyone something is a non story and then sending a minister on radio a week later to say it really is a story especially when you already have a credibility issue (Juliar). Leadership is not about looking for someone to blame when something goes wrong it is about getting on with the job.

    Leadership is about image creation, stirring the pot but keeping your hands clean, leading from the front not sniping at the dogs chasing you from behind. When it comes to the image of leadership there is clearly no contest. John Howard has already shown you don’t need to be loved by your colleagues to be a man of the people. If I was a Labor man I surely would not have to look too hard to see where my future lies.

  22. geomac

    My one and only reply to you because experience has taught me that like SB it becomes a dog chasing its tail . Abbott got the leadership by one vote and the PM got the job because she had so much support Rudd squibbed a vote . Its your opinion that the PM hasn,t got support from her colleagues but obviously not the Rudd camp because no challenge . As to the best person for the job , well the runs are on the board . Considering the circumstances the PM has done a good job dealing with various independents to get things over the line . Howard had to deal with the odious Coulson and the far less odious Harradine who at least had principles .
    I completely agree with your point about Fielding being an obstruction . Rudd should have called an election as he had a legitimate trigger on two issues and popular support in the ” opinion ” Polls that everyone is sick of . Instead of negotiating with the Greens he sidelined them and played politics with Turnbull and ended up with a no vote in the senate . Negotiation would have gone some way to ease legislation through but was never attempted by Rudd . Wilkies my way or the highway approach to gambling would I think refute the idea that dealing with various independents with wide ranging expectations and hopes is any easier than the old senate . Abbott couldn,t even convince them that he would be stable and go the distance of a full term , he wasn,t trusted .

  23. MaxJim

    And the judas goat cheeseman of the slaughterhouse owner Rudd leads the lazy, the unelectable and the lily livered once again to the nightmare.

    Anyone someone stop this. Before Rudd was outed someone should have pinned the tail on and told the truth. We thought he was mad, but then the people loved him. We thought we could control him so promoted him. But then he escaped from the attic and has had us in a corner since. We then trapped him and put Julia in charge, but everyone smelled a problem and started beating up Julia and she couldn’t defend herself because she would have had to mention the attic. He said he would start again if we didn’t give him the ministers job, he promised he was better after he had his little post ousting ‘operation’ right yea we believed that hospital didn’t have access to special doctors. But he was only pretending. He is loose again and we can’t tell anyone because they would say, Why the hell you let him in the party in the first place and then as pm.

    Tell the damn truth all of it. And I can say on the lib side if it makes labor voters feel better, the madman story is history repeating itself. Someone is about to let Tony Abbott out of the attic with his red underpants on his head and that is the first policy he will be proposing. Oh come on the whole things is like a pratchett novel.

    Where else could you find two completely loony men so high up in running the country. turnbull must be cracking up laughing.

  24. guytaur

    Wow a press conference on substance not leadership so far. I wonder who is going to win money on the betting of how long before journos ask about leadership.
    Glad some attention is being paid to the Gronski Report.

  25. Bellistner

    Oh seriously, who the hell cares! This endless speculation and breathless repeating of things anonymouse backbenchers may or may not have said is really starting to get on my nerves.

    The Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt offers up a list of things Rudd can do to help win the next election. For example: defer the carbon tax, cut spending, scrap the media inquiry and reopen Nauru:

    So… join the Liberal party?…

  26. SBH

    Guytaur +4

    Thursday nights 7.30 report was notable for starting with the non-story and finishing with Uhlman completely missing Dawe and Clark irony.

    Savonrepus – unless the ABC acts have been completely rewritten and I missed it, the Prime Minister doesn’t run the ABC and saying so is just wrong.

    Before the week kicks of in earnest can we just try to avoid the innanity of responding to the trolls SB, the wizzer, JFPE etc. It’s depressing to see how much space that could be used to discuss ideas being wasted on these twats.

  27. Chris Tallis

    I seem to remember a fair amount of leadership speculation prior to rudds ousting.
    IMO what is going on now is a fair amount of payback for gillard and the way in which rudd was deposed. Gillard should have waited for rudd to run full term and then challenged prior to an election, that simple act would have given rudd some dignity and gillard some legitimacy.
    As it is the media feast off it and all it does is undermine the govt.
    Rudd is quite obviously not a team player, gillard should confront him and sack him. The next election its all over for labor anyhow so why reward his disloyalty at all?
    They should forget the media entirely, they don’t give labor a fair go anyway, and just get on with decent reforms. What it is that they do now will be their legacy and the libs will have much trouble undoing it especially if the senate is controlled by the Greens.
    Get that? Just govern, you have already lost the next election, get over it and piss kevin off, he is undermining the whole show as payback.

  28. Kevin

    Dear Crikey

    As a paying subscriber to Crikey, may I say I am sick to death of this bloody ‘story’.

    Leave this rubbish for Insiders, The Drum, ABC Radio National, The News Ltd and Fairfax Media etc, to yabber on endlessly about.


  29. guytaur

    Hah, take that media. No challenge. All hype hype in the Canberra bubble.

  30. Karen

    @Savonrepus – what do you think Gillard is trying to do but get on the with the job! She’s being stopped from doing so by the media and to a lesser extent, Rudd. She’s not the one complaining about the media, actually. In fact, when the media has a bee under its bonnet about someone, they will hound and hound until they get what they wan and, in this case, they want her out! They’ve done it to your side of politics as well – look at Brendan Nelson – Geez, I must admit, not being a coalition supporter, I even felt sorry for him.

    And as for credibility, 1 lie to Julia and how many to Howard ? The lies and lack of credibility didn’t stop you from voting Lib, did it? So, don’t give me that hyposcrisy.

    And, finally, 4 corners, JG would have been damned if she didn’t give the interview – just like everthing else (which according to her office believed was going to be about ALP policy and legislative achievements to date). So, instead, she got ambushed by a stooge, and so what? Still no smoking gun. The faction heavies gave JGthe job. That’s the evidence to date.

    And as for JG ‘owning the ABC’ and, by implication its editorial content, as you’ve implied, last I checked, the ABC, under a sympathetic board, has been hiring people from your side of politics – its now soooo MSN.

  31. guytaur

    I think this press conference may be the one where cold hard reality hits the media. No oxygen in leadership challenge stories.

  32. Savonrepus

    @Guytaur – you have a strange understanding of management – The mineral moguls assisted by the excess funds provided by the Gillard dumping of the Rudd super profit tax seem to have no problem in managing editorial policy for their outlets and Kevin himself seems to have no problem managing his media profile.

    @Kevin it is ridiculous to suggest that Crikey should not be covering in depth a story everyone else is covering. If you have a problem with the media front up to the Government enquiry. If you have a problem with the ABC complain to your local member but censoring the press is not for this country. Finally if you do not like a story why give it credibility by adding your great name to the commentary?

  33. Sancho

    Rudd was never a poor PM, he just suffered the terrible brand management that Labor can’t seem to shake.

    The party should have toughed it out with Rudd to the last election, but now that Gillard’s in charge she should bloody well stay there.

  34. SBH

    Yes I’m with you Chris Tallis – this new concept that no one knew that a challenge to Rudd was on is just silly revisionism, I mean, I know people who saw the polling at the time.

    Guytaur, Plibers and Garrett have both done good work in the ‘I’m just concentrating on the important job of governing….’ vein.

  35. Lord Barry Bonkton

    Guytaur + 50

  36. guytaur


    Yes. Ministers have been showing their quality. Particulary impressed with Garrett getting the message out in the face of leadership obsession.

  37. gerard

    Of course the king-hit of the four letter word usage, unrivalled anywhere ever, would have to be the BBC’s political TV comedy drama “The Thick of It”. I believe that the success of those series was very much if not entirely due to the exquisite use, and hence our enjoyments, of the expletives. The odd thing is that even though bad language is used in all those series, it isn’t actually offensive. In fact, without the high level of bad language, the series would have been a lot less successful.

    We claim that times have moved on, but have they? The triviality of a person having used expletives still deemed to be newsworthy seems to prove that the issue of some words being less palatable than others still exists. It is worth noting that those feared swear words in the Anglo world usually consist of vulgar forms of naming genitals or sex while in the languages of Europe, swearing is mainly in the domain of religion, calling down the devil and eternal hell fire etc, seeking the gods to vent their fury on our enemy…Why is it that so many expletives in English have sexual connotations? There is a lot still there to ponder about.

    The video uploaded on YouTube containing Kevin Rudd’s swearwords is now seen as being the final act and catalyst in a predicted forthcoming challenge to the leadership. It’s whispered to have come from both sides, those opposing Rudd to the leadership from the present government side together with those on the pro-Rudd side of politics. It is just proof that whatever happens in the next few weeks, those four letter words still contain a mighty punch. There are going to be some awful weeks ahead of us. Fuck!
    The media, as ever, has been braying for a leadership spill ever since Rudd was removed. They must be swirling and jumping around like besotted dervishes in what is to come, a dance macabre if ever there was.

  38. shepherdmarilyn

    Yes that senate. Rudd has no power in the senate and only got through the BER and other stimulus packages thanks to Xenophon and the Greens.

    At the last election the lib/nats were reduced to 36 clear votes so the ALP and Greens can get things like the human rights committee, complementary refugee protection and such things through.

    Until he phoned and stopped the refugees on the ship that stayed in Merak for 6 months he was doing a good job on moral issues and he and Therese are now both disgusted with the attempts at illegal dirty deal to sell off refugees.

    It seems to me that all the fucking monkeys have not noticed what is really going on here.

    Gillard and Abbott are simply sparring off each other in mutual pretend loathing and fuck the rest of us.

  39. Socratease

    If this is to be brought to a head then I doubt that Rudd will challenge; my guess is that Gillard will call a spill. Methinks Rudd is quite happy to keep the speculation pot boiling as long as possible while Gillard stews in it.

    If Gillard “brings it on” then Rudd will probably lack a majority and lose, but it will be a Pyrrhic victory for Gillard because one cannon shot to the castle may not bring it down, but it will definitely weaken it and provide a breach for another shot (by anybody) down the track, because Gillard will never recover her loss of credibility with the electorate and the natives will definitely remain restless.

    On the other hand, if Gillard decides that sacking Rudd is a wiser move than facing a party room ballot, would Rudd resign his seat and force a by-election?

    Alternatively, should Rudd get up the numbers to reclaim the role of PM, what would his cabinet look like?

  40. Patriot


    “Abbott got the leadership by one vote and the PM got the job because she had so much support Rudd squibbed a vote . “

    What a stupid thing to say in response to my observation on the current situation. How long ago did both those things happen? There’s been an election between those events and now – one where Tony Abbott performed commendably and where Gillard’s performed woefully, with her transforming from fake Julia to the real Julia(who immediately lіed to us about the carbon tax) while Rudd fed the media a constant stream of damaging leaks.

    “As to the best person for the job , well the runs are on the board .”

    Define best. You understand that there will be a range of views on what makes someone the best for the job. Popularity with voters would be high on the list for many ALP members, particularly so for members in threatened seats. They would quite possibly see Gillard as the worst person for the job. If the numbers are within the ranges suggested by Gillard And Rudd, then a significant number want her gone.

  41. Whitford Deirdre

    Look. I just want a Christian father of four who looks good in group photos of pollies from around the world. A femme seule like Julia just doesn’t cut the mustard for some reason. I want a PM who doesn’t need to be explained away…at a visceral level, Kevin 07 still does it for me and always will…

  42. Johnfromplanetearth

    You see SBH i consider you to be the troll. The greatest form of ignorance is rejecting something you know nothing about. If you can’t see that this Government is in trouble and is not working as a team for the benefit of this country then please enlighten me on the success of this Labor Government these past 4 years?
    KRudd is not a team player (Crean got that right) KRudd is a loose cannon, a loner, a man whose temperament and inability to delegate and show respect to his fellow colleagues and staff is an insult to every Australian he is working for.
    He is a megalomaniac!

  43. Savonrepus

    What a huge opportunity for the Labor caucus. So they made a mistake with the hapless Julia now they can just say sorry to the Australian people, rectify the wrong and start moving forward again with good ship Kevin.

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