FRIDAY: Kevin Rudd has announced he will contest the leadership on Monday at 10am and given a commitment that he will leave the issue for good if he should lose.
“Today in Australia we face some serious challenges.
All indications are we are heading for the rocks at the next election, leaving the country to ravages of Abbott, the most conservative, most right wing Government in Australian history.
That’s why I am here today … things need to change.
Rightly or wrongly, Julia has lost the trust of the Australian people and starting on Monday I have decided to restore that trust. I have decided to contest ballot on Monday.
I want to finish job the Australian people elected me to do when I was elected by them to become PM.
Many of my colleagues have encouraged me to do just that. I was elected in 2007 to govern for all Australians and that is what we did. The record is a good record.
I’ve spoken up for democracy everywhere in the world, but it’s most important we have one at home, in my party. Australia’s are sick and tired of outside forces calling the shots. Our greatest gift of democracy and to democracy is the secret ballot. And we should have that on Monday. We should have freedom of intimidation from factions. Their pre-selections should not be threatened by how they vote.
No one should live in fear. I call for a secret ballot. A truly, secret ballot. I would call on the PM to ensure that candidates, and perhaps their might be more, have the opportunity to speak and address the party before the ballot is taken so people can make an informed choice.
Let me tell you about one of number of things I got wrong. We removed the right of the party to elect the cabinet. I think I made the wrong call. If elected as PM, I will return that power to the party!
We want the power of the factions to be transferred to each and every individual member of the parliamentary party. That’s the Australian way. I’m not prepared to stand idly by … if we don’t change, the Labor Party is going to end up in opposition.
We will all end up on the Opposition backbench. That’s the cold, stark reality for everybody.
Mr Abbott is a man who has proved he has neither temperament, the vision of the experience to lead.
He has both feet planted firmly in the past.
His view on climate change is from the 1960s. His view of the NBN from the 1990s.
Then there is his attitude on women which goes back to 1950s.
He’s not, as they say in The Castle, an ideas man. He is philosophically opposed to using Govt to build a nation, his vision is just plain extreme.
Beating Mr Abbott is achievable.
I have never met a more negative man in Australian politics than Mr Abbott. This is the single, most negative force in Australian politics that we have ever seen. The importance of beating him is paramount. So much of what we have achieved is at risk, and what we will achieve in the future is at risk.
A Labor Party with Labor values doesn’t need a Greens party to tell it how to protect the environment.
If I should lose I would go to the back bench and I would not challenge Julia a second time. I would continue to work for my community in Griffith.”
THURSDAY: Prime Minister Julia Gillard has delivered her first address following Rudd’s resignation. She called a double-or-nothing gamble for herself and Rudd. If either should lose, she says, they should revoke any future claim to the leadership.
She then took the remarkable step of ‘absolving’ any and all journalists from their commitment to confidence and asked them to speak up if any of them had ever heard her speak ill of Kevin Rudd or be disloyal behind his back during the time she was PM.
Here is some of what she had to say:
“I have decided that at 10am Monday morning a ballot for the Labor leadership will be conducted.
I have formed this view that we need a ballot in order to settle this question once and for all. More importantly, it is in the interests of the Australian nation.
For far too long we have seen squabbling which has obscured Government achievements and what we are doing to build a stronger and fairer nation.
This has moved to a distraction and that’s not good enough. Australians are rightly sick of this and want it brought to an end.
Only Labor can provide the leadership we need, and Labor can only do that if we proceed with unity.
I will renominate for the Labor leadership and expect to receive the support of my colleagues.
If, against my expectation, I do not receive that support I will go to the backbench and renounce any further claim to the Labor leadership.
And I would ask the same of Kevin Rudd. If he loses that ballot he should commit and renounce any further claims to the leadership and act in the interests of the ALP.
Under my leadership I believe we have been securing the big reforms. We have so much more work to do
I note Kevin Rudd has consistently referred to the need to defeat Tony Abbott. Well let me make this clear. I believe I can lead the ALP to that victory provided we get on with the job.
Government is about more than just electioneering. It’s about making each and every day count and having the discipline and the effort necessary to get the job done.
My focus is on the future, not on the past but let me say some things about 2010. Kevin Rudd’s Government entered a period of paralysis. In my view Kevin Rudd is an excellent campaigner, indeed a remarkable campaigner. But Government requires different skills. Consistency, purpose, method, consultation. It requires you to lead a big team and lead it well. Kevin Rudd failed to do that.
That’s what motivated me in 2010. Out of respect for Kevin Rudd at that time, I did not canvas every detail. I used the terminology the ‘Government had lost its way’.
There has been a long-running destabilisation campaign here to get to this point. I don’t seek to dwell on that.
It is now absolutely evident Rudd is returning to Australia to ask me for a leadership ballot. If I can make one political comment, I don’t believe it is fair to Anna Bligh for this to drift on day after day with no resolution in sight.”
Kevin Rudd delivered his second press conference before the Prime Minister delivered her first, after 9am AEDT. He said he had yet to make up his mind about challenging for the leadership of the Labor Party, but did not hold back.
“I am very pleased and encouraged by positve support and wishes from many to contest the leadership.
They regard me as the best prospect to lead the ALP to the next election, to save the ALP at those elections and save country from ravages of an Abbott Government.
In Australia today people are sick and tired of the politics of division and sick and tired overall. As we know, Mr Abbott is the national master of that.
Therefore it is important that we begin to cultivate and develop a new sense of unity.
Bottom line is, this question of the future of the leadership of our party and country is not about personality. It’s about trust. It’s also about policy and vision. I’m proud of the fact, that when you look closely at what I have achieved, the achievements are formidable.”
Mr Rudd then went on to list his major policy achievements and what he would focus on if he ever led the party in the future, including education, manufacturing and small businesses. He then delivered a final uppercut to the PM:
“I do not believe – I do not believe – PM Gillard can lead the ALP to success in the next election. And as they say in the classics folks, I gotta zip,” he said before leaving to catch a flight back to Australia.
Here’s how the story played out to begin with yesterday:
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has just resigned after weeks of intense leadership speculation in the Federal Australian Labor Party. He resigned from a press conference in Washington and said he would ‘never be part of a stealth attack‘ on a sitting Prime Minister and described the current leadership saga as ‘nothing more than a soap opera’.
Here is a full transcript of his speech:
While I am sad to leave this office I am sadder still it has come to this. The last time I resigned in a position of public office was when I was Prime Minister of Australia. Regrettably there have been some similar factors at play today.
It is time for some plain speaking on this. The truth is I can only serve as Foreign Minister if I have the confidence of Prime Minister Gillard and her senior ministers. In recent days Minister Crean and a number of other faceless men have publicly attacked my integrity and therefore my fitness to serve as a minister of government.
When challenged today on these attacks Prime Minister Gillard chose not to repudiate them. I can only reluctantly conclude that she therefore shares these views.
The simple truth is that I cannot continue to serve as Foreign Minister if I do not have Prime Minister Gillard’s support. I therefore believe the only honorable thing, and therefore the only honorable course of action, is for me to resign.
And I do so with a genuinely heavy heart and after much personal reflection.
There are other factors, too, that I had to take into consideration today.
The truth is, the Australian people regard this whole affair as little better than a soap opera – and they are right. And under current circumstances, I won’t be part of it.
It is also, I believe, a distraction from the real business of Government. I also believe it’s affected the business community. I agree with recent statements made by peak bodies to this effect.
It is important that business confidence is maintained in Australia. The economy and jobs are core to what any responsible Government is about.
I also believe that this ongoing saga is bad for my good friend, Anna Bligh, as she fights the fight of her life in Queensland. She’s a great premier, she’s a good friend and I believe the good people of Queensland deserve some space over the coming month as they make up their mind on a very important decision over the future of Queensland, my home state, the state I’m very proud to be from.
The truth is, I also feel very uncomfortable doing this from Washington and not in Australia, but I don’t feel as if I have a choice given the responsibilities I have before me over the days ahead here in Washington, in London on the future of Somalia and piracy in the Indian Ocean, and in Tunis on the future of Syria. These are important challenges for the world where a responsible Australian voice needs to be heard. A voice which I have sought to inject in my period as Foreign Minister on these core challenges.
Under no circumstances do I want Australia’s international reputation brought into disrepute because of this ongoing saga.
Therefore, Ambassador Beazley will discharge my functions here on my behalf in Washington tomorrow and the Permanent Secretary of my Department, Dennis Richardson, will represent me in London and Tunis. I will return home to Brisbane tomorrow, arriving back there on Friday morning.
Over the days ahead, i will be consulting openly and honestly with my family, with my community and with my parliamentary colleagues, taking their counsel on what I should do next and what my next step should be. I will then make a full statement to the Australian people on my future before parliament resumes next Monday.
I deeply believe that if the ALP, a party of which i have been a proud member for more than 30 years, is to have the best future for our nature then it must change fundamentally its culture, and to end the power of faceless men. Australia must be governed by the people. Not by the factions. But I can promise you this – there is no way – no way – that I will ever be part of a stealth attack on a sitting PM who was elected by the people. We all know that what happened then was wrong, and it must never happen again.
He ended the press conference without taking questions, saying there was “much, much to do”.
Ms Rein also told the Brisbane Times: “I’m immensely proud of Kevin and his contribution as Foreign Minister and I’m really looking forward to giving him a hug when he gets home.”
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said: “Kevin Rudd has confirmed two things – that the faceless men are running the Labor Party and that the instability at the top of this government is damaging our country.”
“Kevin Rudd’s statement tonight confirms that this government is unworthy to continue in office.”
Julia Gillard’s response:
The Prime Minister hasn’t fronted the media but released a short statement saying she was disappointed Kevin Rudd never raised his resignation with her personally – his resignation letter arrived at her office at the precise moment he was live on television – and would address the media in full in the morning. It is believed Ms Gillard will announce a leadership ballot tomorrow, which would be held on Monday.
Her statement in full:
Today Kevin Rudd has tendered his resignation as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
I am disappointed that the concerns Mr Rudd has publicly expressed this evening were never personally raised with me, nor did he contact me to discuss his resignation prior to his decision.
I plan to hold a press conference tomorrow to make a further statement.
Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan launches extraordinary attack on Rudd:
Prime Minister Gillard and I and the overwhelming majority of our colleagues have been applying our Labor values to the policy challenges in front of us and we’re succeeding despite tremendous political obstacles. For the sake of the movement, the Government and the Australians which it represents, we have refrained from criticism to date.
However for too long, Kevin Rudd has been putting his own self-interest ahead of the interests of the broader Labor movement and the country as a whole, and that needs to stop. The Party has given Kevin Rudd all the opportunities in the world and he wasted them with his dysfunctional decision making and his deeply demeaning attitude towards other people including our caucus colleagues. He sought to tear down the 2010 campaign, deliberately risking an Abbott Prime Ministership, and now he undermines the Government at every turn.
He was the Party’s biggest beneficiary then its biggest critic; but never a loyal or selfless example of its values and objectives.For the interests of the movement and of working people, there is too much at stake in our economy and in the political debate for the interests of the movement and working people to be damaged by somebody who does not hold any Labor values.
Colleagues are sick of Kevin Rudd driving the vote down by sabotaging policy announcements and undermining our substantial economic successes. The Labor Party is not about a person, it’s about a purpose. That’s something Prime Minister Gillard has always known in her heart but something Kevin Rudd has never understood.
In the meantime…
Craig Emerson, presently the Trade Minister, will act as Australia’s Foreign Minister and take on the responsibilities immediately.