UPDATE : IS IT REALLY OVER?
“Set me free why don’t you babe? Get out my life why don’t you babe?”
That song has been in my head all day.* It’s been my soundtrack to The Spill.
I’m imagining Julia Gillard… Ginger Diana Ross style afro, pleading to Kevin Rudd in song….
“Cause you don’t really love me. You just keep me hangin’ on.”
It’s fitting. Kevin Rudd has been the thorn in Gillard’s Prime Ministership since June 24, 2010. And even now that he’s been beaten – comprehensively – for the second time, no one can be sure that he’s ever going to set her free.
Julia Gillard acknowledged that questions about Kevin Rudd’s future influence on the party wouldn’t end today.
“I understand many people will have their doubts, but after this fight Labor will pull together in a united way.
We have come together before and we will do so now. I am absolutely confident of that because at the end of the day as Labor people we are driven by a common purpose,” she said. There was even a “moving forward” thrown in for good measure.
Kevin Rudd, in a humble concession speech, signalled that he did, in fact, intend to move on and turn his attention to the people of Australia.
“We must serve the people, not ourselves. And that is what I dedicate myself to doing.
To Julia, I would say the following: I accept fully the verdict of the caucus and I dedicate myself to working fully for her re-election as PM,” he said this afternoon, his family by his side.
He absolved his detractors of any guilt over the way they spoke about him over the past week.
“I bear no grudges, I bear no one any malice and if I’ve done wrong to anyone, in what I’ve said or in what I’ve done, to them I apologise.”
The ex-PM took to the Backbench in Question Time today. Smiling and joking with his teammates, like he hadn’t a care in the world.
But in an interview earlier today Kevin Rudd said that while he wouldn’t initiate a further challenge himself, he wouldn’t rule out another spill if someone else nominated him.
If the polls continue to slide and MPs and Senators start to get nervous about the 2013 election, we could see one of Rudd’s supporters take matters into their own hands.
Some MPs have quietly warned the media that the PM has 6 months to turn the polls around, or her own supporters will turn against her.
He may have only received 31 votes in caucus today, but that’s still roughly a third of the party that would prefer not to have Julia Gillard as leader.
The fall out of Labor’s instability continued this afternoon with the shock resignation of former faceless man and factional leader, Mark Arbib.
The NSW Senator and Assistant Treasurer said he was resigning for family reasons, but he also hoped it would help the party heal.
“I leave today without bitterness or anger and with hope for the party’s future,” he said.
“I hope all members see this gesture as a way for the party to go forward.”
The way forward is now in Julia Gillard’s hands. But she’s not free just yet. If she can’t manage it, she’ll always have her old friend Kevin hanging around, ready to take the pressure off.
* Thank you to my friend Leah Craven for singing this to me first thing this morning.
Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development, Minister for Sport and key ‘faceless man’ behind the downfall of then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Senator Mark Arbib, has resigned as a Minister and Senator for New South Wales. Mr Arbib said he was getting out because the toll politics took on his family was too great. He voted for Julia Gillard today.
UPDATE: THE NEW JULIA
Fasten your seatbelts people. The Prime Minister (that’s still Julia Gillard, in case you missed it) has promised to be a tough and direct leader from now on.
“I intend to be a very forceful advocate of the Government’s policies, so settle in.”
In her press conference, shortly after creaming Kevin Rudd in a leadership ballot, the PM let Australia know that she is in charge, and she will not tolerate any more of this nonsense. Not when it comes at the expense of the Australian people.
“I can assure you that this political drama is over and you are at the centre of our efforts,” she said.
“I feel impatient because I want to get on with the job of building this nation’s future.”
Julia Gillard says she has learnt from this experience. She has admitted she needs to work on her communication skills. She needs to be more upfront. She needs to market the government’s successes.
The reaction from the public when the Prime Minister snapped at a South Australian journalist, and when she unleashed her anger at Kevin Rudd, was positive. We breathed a collective sigh of relief at the glimpse of (perhaps) the Real Julia. We liked it. Smart, strong and doesn’t take crap. It’s what you want in a leader.
After the 2010 coup, Julia Gillard adopted a softer persona. Perhaps to endear herself to people who thought she was ruthless and vindictive. She also kept the reasons behind the coup a secret. Something she now says was a mistake.
Julia Gillard can be warm, funny and kind. Most people who meet her find her caring and generous with her time.
She showed this when she graciously reminded us all to honour Mr Rudd for his achievements as Prime Minister including the apology to the Stolen Generation and his work to guide Australia through the GFC.
Gillard can also be hard nosed, merciless and razor sharp. There are moments in Question Time when her venomous quips at the Opposition make you gasp. She is well and truly up for the job…. and now she says, we’ll finally see it.
UPDATE: BUSINESS AS USUAL… OR IS IT?
It’s the spill that stopped the nation.
Rudd flew out of the gates, somewhat lighter than he was, after shedding that Foreign Minister handicap, but Gillard caught up quickly, stepping right into the fight, a steely determination in her eyes that hasn’t been seen before.
The crowd was cheering Rudd, he’s the punter’s favourite and the underdog, but Gillard is a thoroughbred with a first class team behind her.
It looked like Rudd might just get past the line with the crowd in the cheap seats going mental, but Gillard is a proven performer……
Gillard wins! In fact she almost laps Kevin Rudd.
The final vote was 71 to 31. It’s a walloping by anyone’s standards.
It was, apparently, a very business like affair. Gillard and Rudd each took turns to speak to the caucus. Returning Officer, Chris Hayes told the media they each spoke for about 3 minutes. The caucus meeting took more than an hour. What else was going on in that room? Oh to be a fly on that wall….
Truth is, we will never really know what was said. Hang on a minute, what am I saying? This is the Labor party. Someone will leak a blow by blow transcript any minute now.
It was all smiles as the PM left the party room flanked by Deputy Wayne Swan and Craig Emerson.
“Thanks a lot.” was all she would say to the waiting media. Her official press conference will go ahead before Question Time at 2pm.
Bill Shorten looked battle weary as he left the room, saying, “It’s all over now, back to work.”
Simon Crean on the other hand was looking ultra relaxed, saying, “It’s a very good result. Decisive result.”
Rudd left with a “stage smile” but didn’t say a word. Thirty one votes was not nearly the result he wanted.
Rudd has promised it’s his last race. But can a racehorse really give up racing just like that?
Here’s some of what he had to say at a press conference afterward:
“I thank my supporters from the bottom of my heart.
We must serve the people, not ourselves. And that is what I dedicate myself to doing. To Julia, I would say the following: I accept fully the verdict of the caucus and I dedicate myself to working fully for her re-election as PM.
To the good people of Australia: firstly, thank you. On behalf of myself and Therese and the family. You have been an enormous encouragement to the journey we have walked so far in public life.
I believe that when I nominated for the position of leader of the Labor Party that this was doing exactly the right thing. I resigned from Foreign Minister because it was the right thing to do. I knew it was tough but I was not about to go and squib it.
I will continue as the Federal Member for Griffith into the future and beyond the next election.
These are difficult times for the ALP movement. We’ve been around for a bit and we’ve done a few things. We got most of them right and a few things wrong. Over the years we’ve had a few internal problems as well. But we’ve written the history of this nation, the other mob have just reacted to it.
My job is to now throw my every effort into securing Julia Gillard’s re-election at the next election.”
In a press conference after Rudd’s speech, Gillard addressed the nation:
“The last week has seen us, the women and men of the Labor Party, focused on themselves. At time, it has been ugly. I understand Australians have had a gutful of focusing on ourselves.
So today, this issue is now determined. You rightly expect Government to focus on you. I can assure you that this political drama is over and you are now back at centre stage where you should properly be and are now the focus of our efforts.
I have had the opportunity to explain the circumstances of 2010 and how I became PM. I accept I should have explained that at the time. But having now taken the opportunity, those discussions should now be at an end.
I understand many people will have their doubts but after this fight Labor will pull together in a united way.
We have come together before and we will do so now. I am absolutely confident of that because at the end of the day as Labor people we are driven by a common purpose.
We will unite and focus on that.
I want to say three things about today and days that lie beyond.
Firstly for Kevin Rudd. This is a difficult and disappointing day for him and his family. We must honour his many achievements of Prime Minister. Kevin Rudd led this nation through the Global Financial Crisis, delivered the apology to the Indigenous people of Australia and has been an amazing advocate on the world stage. We honour those achievements, as a nation, as a Labor Party, without reservation.
As for now, Dr Emerson will act as the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Second, many Australians will have read a lot of commentary about opinion polls. I believe Australians don’t look at politicians and think we can’t read opinion polls.
I can say I have learned some things. I know I have made some mistakes. About how I have been an advocate for our policies. I intend to be a stronger and more forceful advocate for what we are doing and achieving.
I absolutely believe that, united, we can win the next election and I am very determined that in 2013 we will do so. I will take Labor to that election and we will win that election.
On occasions like this, people often ask you how you feel. I feel impatient. I want to get on with the job of building this nation’s future.”
UPDATE: JULIA GILLARD HAS WON THE LEADERSHIP BALLOT CONVINCINGLY
Laurie Oakes called the result for Rudd ‘pretty humiliating’. But that was before the official announcement from the returning officer Chris Hayes. Getting 30 was seen as necessary to maintain dignity. There was a round of applause for the Prime Minister.
THE BALLOT BEGINS
It’s a bloody miserable day in Canberra. Grey and soggy… but the media and the pollies have been going for hours now, trying to get the very last word on what they think will happen in that caucus room at 10am…….
One MP, Michelle Rowland, gave birth last week so she’s been excused from the vote. So it’s up to the other 102 members of the caucus to decide on who will lead the party.
The odds are firmly in favour of Julia Gillard keeping her job.
One punter has also forked out $300,000 at Sportsbet for Julia Gillard to win the ballot. Faith!
She’s at $1.11 to win. Rudd’s odds are at $10.
You can also bet on what they’ll wear today (it is Oscars day after all). The odd are at $3.25 that Rudd will wear a black tie and it’s at $4 Gillard will wear a white jacket. She does love a crisp white jacket.
Rudd’s banking on his popularity with the public to get him over the line. The whole Rudd family has been urging people to call their local MPs to voice their support. That pressure could push a couple of undecided MPs over to Rudd’s camp. Ultimately, they care about being re-elected.
Rudd has a couple of big names in the party behind him. Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson have both voiced their support of Rudd.
But this morning, Martin Ferguson’s brother and fellow MP Laurie, arrived declaring his support for Gillard. He slammed Rudd for causing a rift in the party.
“He carries on about things like factions, power brokers, backstreet boys. Look the reality is, his colleagues, the people who know him well, fundamentally rejected him a year or two or ago. He’s going to get the message very strongly this morning.”
Backstreets back alright!
Stay tuned… I’m sitting outside the caucus room ready and waiting for the verdict. ….
Lauren Dubois is a freelance political reporter and Canberra correspondent for Mamamia. For all thing politics, you can follow her on Twitter here
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