Roll up, roll up for the Canberra circus, where Labor MPs today re-elected Julia Gillard as ring leader in a 10am ballot. Gillard won the ballot easily, with 71 votes out of a possible 102 votes. Challenger Kevin Rudd achieved 31 votes. Is 31 enough votes to destabilise Gillard's leadership? Or has the loss killed off Rudd's leadership ambitions forever?
We'll be updating this post throughout the day with the latest news and commentary, so keep checking back to watch the madness unfold.
Well. It's been a hectic day. Let's offer a quick little run down of all the main events today.
- In a 10am secret ballot, Julia Gillard secured the support of her colleagues to continue as Labor leader and prime minister. She won the vote overwhelming, with 71 votes out of 102 votes. Challenger Kevin Rudd secured 31 votes. Labor MP Michelle Rowland gave birth just days ago and didn't vote today, but she has voiced her support for Gillard.
- Rudd accepted the defeat gracefully, saying he will support the prime minister and does not hold any grudges against MPs who have dished the dirt on him in a pretty vicious manner in recent weeks. "The caucus has spoken, I accept the caucus verdict without qualification and without rancour," said Rudd.
- Afterwards, Gillard declared that the "political drama is over" and she was impatient to get back on with the job of governing the country.
- Opposition leader Tony Abbott called for an election, saying that the "faceless men" of the Labor Party continued to choose who runs the country.
- In a surprising twist, one of the most famous "faceless men" Mark Arbib, a former convener of the Labor Right, announced his resignation as a Labor minister and senator. He said he had been involved in "difficult decisions" -- i.e. the June 2010 coup against Rudd -- which he stood by, but he felt that standing aside would help the Labor Party to "heal". He also added that family reasons were key to his decision. Immigration minister Chris Bowen said it was a surprise to him that Arbib resigned, but said he understood the family pressures on politicians.
- Read Crikey's Bernard Keane on how the main winners of today are Stephen Smith, Bill Shorten or Simon Crean.
- And then check out First Dog on the Moon as he welcomes Tony Abbott as emperor of Australia.
On that night, this is likely to be the last Crikey
live blog update for today. Thanks for reading and check back tomorrow for a look at how the rest of the media saw today unfold.
As if today wasn't tumultuous enough, Labor Senator and sports minister Mark Arbib has just announced his resignation, saying it was for both his role in the 2010 coup and for personal reasons.
"I'm resigning because I want to give the party a chance to heal.
"The last few days only categorise the last 18 months.
"I don't think it's a secret, I have been a faction leader. I have made tough and difficult decisions." Arbib added that he'd always been dedicated to the Labor Party and he was trying to ensure that the party was trying to get over the next week.
"Leadership ballots in all parties are difficult, complex and emotional events. They leave scars. These scars can fade over time.
He said he'd made some "tough decisions" over the last three years and believes the 2010 coup -- of which he was a key player -- against Rudd "saved the party from certain defeat. I stand by those decisions."
But he says he told the Prime Minister of his decision tor resign today and spoke of how he hopes it "will help the party, rebuild, mending some of the turmoil of the last week" and gives a chance for party renewal.
"The decision is also a personal one," said Arbib, noting that the "personal toll on family is great" for politicians.
Arbib spoke of his young daughter crying when telling her he had got a promotion and would be away more often.
"Most Australians think politicians spend half their life in Canberra and the other half on holidays. Nothing could be further from the truth."
Arbib also dismissed the concept of a "faceless man", saying it was a mechanism by Tony Abbott at the last election. "Every time he says it, please laugh at him," Arbib told journalists.
ABC journalist Latika Bourke has just tweeted
that Labor Right powerbroker Mark Arbib (one of the infamous "faceless men") is set to resign as a Minister and Senator. He will be holding a press conference at 4.10pm.
Here's a look around at some of the commentary and news after this morning's vote.
Andrew Leigh, a Gillard backer and the Member for Fraser, tweeted a photo of a blank ballot paper from this morning, noting it was one for the "history buffs".
political editor Michelle Grattan notes that question time has finally calmed down: