It was not one of Kevin Rudd’s better interviews. Perhaps it was the rattling of the champagne glasses at the World Economic Forum behind him that distracted during his hyped chat with 7.30‘s Leigh Sales, but he didn’t put in a good performance.

In particular, there was the painful moment when Sales had to extract an admission from him that Julia Gillard was the Prime Minister. It was reminiscent of the strange malaise that overcame the then-PM on budget night in 2009 which rendered him unable to utter the word “billion” about the budget deficit.

There followed some desperate media attempts to inflate this into a leadership story. But, for the moment, and almost uniquely in this Parliament, any leadership focus is on Tony Abbott, his poor performance in recent weeks, and his reticence in recent days, which even extended to question time yesterday.

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The real story, perhaps, is: Kevin, why? Was it relevance deprivation syndrome? Was there something genuinely important happening at the WEF in China that Rudd needed to convey?

Or was it simply that he couldn’t help himself, that he could only stay passive for so long before letting some leadership hares run? “It’s important I lend my shoulder to the wheel as well when it comes to making it clear to the Australian public what they’d be buying on trust with Mr Abbott,” Rudd said by way of justification.

Oddly enough, for once, Labor has been doing exactly that of late. Without any assistance from Rudd at all.

Crikey together with OurSay collected some 120 questions and more than 6600 votes to decide the top three questions you wanted to ask independent MPs Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor. In a Crikey Live event yesterday afternoon our Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane put them to the political powerbrokers as part of a wide-ranging discussion on the economy, tax reform, health funding, gay marriage … and whether they’ll stick around for another term. Listen in to the chat

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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