Labor’s leadership showdown is now rapidly approaching, with a petition circulating among caucus members asking for a special meeting. The Rudd supporters need one third of the caucus to get a meeting called.
News of the petition came after tumultuous morning which included the announcements by the two key country independents who have propped up the government - Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott - that they will not contest the election.
The pair also played into Labor’s leadership crisis with Windsor saying if Rudd was installed and there was a no confidence motion he would be inclined to support Tony Abbott and Oakeshott leaving his position open.
But another crossbencher Bob Katter, who is a close friend of Rudd, said the former Prime Minister would have his support on the floor of the house if he became leader.
Key members of the Rudd camp are confident that he will run. But one Rudd supporter said he was still insisting on some preconditions, including that Gillard supporters would not wreck the government if he took over.
Rudd continued to confuse the situation earlier, by having his office issue a statement about his travel plans:
Comment from a spokesperson for the Hon. Kevin Rudd MP
Mr Rudd will travel to China to attend an international conference in Beijing on Friday morning. Mr Rudd has had his leave request approved from Thursday afternoon.
Mr Rudd accepted the invitation to speak at the conference a number of months ago.
Details of the conference are available at: http://www.cciee.org.cn/thinktank3en/
The crisis has come to a head on the second last day of the parliament sitting before the election and following a welter of bad public and private polling showing Labor faces a wipeout under Julia Gillard.
As recently as this week Rudd’s spokesman has reiterated his March pledge that he would not challenge, but his supporters have strongly argued that he has no choice for the sake of the party because only he can save a number of marginal seats.
The hung parliament makes a leadership change a more than usually complicated matter.
If Rudd took over, the Governor-General Quentin Bryce could require that he indicate he had the confidence of the House of Representatives. Which is why what the crossbenchers say is important.
The Australian Financial Review is reporting that powerbroker Bill Shorten is deserting Gillard - we have asked Shorten’s office if this is true.
Earlier today Trade Minister Craig Emerson and Climate Minister Greg Combet were still sticking with Gillard. Combet said the leadership must be resolved, although he would not be signing a petition.
Shorten’s position has been considered crucial.
NSW Senator Matt Thistlethwaite told Sky he had not seen the petition, would not be signing it and was a supporter of the “Prime Minister”.
He said he could not speculate on talks yesterday between leading Rudd numbers man, former-minister Chris Bowen and Secretary of the NSW Labor party Sam Dastyari.
Meanwhile, the government is struggling on with its legislative work in the dying days of the parliament. The legislation for the Gonski school funding program has passed the Senate, although only two states have agreed to the system so far, Victoria is due to make an announcement shortly.
Shorten’s office tells us “the Minister’s position has not changed and he will not be adding to the media speculation.
Julia Gillard has received a shout out from Minister Gary Gray, who describes her as a “terrific woman” and the “right person” to be Prime Minister. “Everyone knows I support the PM in all circumstances”.
One person smiling but trying not to appear too smug is Tony Abbott. He said it was “pretty clear that the turmoil inside the Government is only deepening”.
“It seems that the Labor Party caucus has not just lost faith in the Prime Minister but is losing faith in the Labor Party itself.”
Looking to the possibility that he might be facing Kevin Rudd, Abbott said “The Labor Party well may change its leader, but it doesn’t matter who leads the Labor Party - it will still be much the same government with much the same policies”.
With Question Time only a few minutes away, the last thing on ministers' minds will be their briefs.
This is an eerie repitition of what happened in March. Then Julia Gillard had to face parliament almost immediately after Simon Crean demanded a leadership spill. That time, Gillard announced in parliament that she was calling on an immediate ballot. Everyone is waiting for how she will handle this fresh crisis as she faces parliament.
For the record Kevin Rudd is wearing a blue tie, which seems the uniform of those who oppose Julia Gillard outside and inside the Labor Party.
Senate leader Barnaby Joyce is preparing to deliver his valedictory speech from the Senate at 5:30.
Until today, Joyce didn’t know whether it would be goodbye to the parliament. Thanks to Tony Windsor’s announcement, Joyce can now relax. He’ll have an easy run in New England.
Senator Joyce promises today’s will be an “emotional speech”.
Sources in the Rudd camp say they’re confident he will run and declare that there is much more energy in the push than in March.
The candidate’s body language is being noted; “he is walking very confidently across the Parliament in divisions,” one source said.
The Rudd camp also says that Bob Katter’s declaration that he would support Rudd in any motion on confidence was an important coup. Sources say this means he would be safe, regardless of the country independents.
Question time opens with Tony Abbott asking the Prime Minister about the Carbon Tax - the issue that has caused so much trouble for her since the last election.
Abbott asks whether she will rule out expanding it to cover the farm sector and the family car. She says there is no prospect of it extending to the car. As to the farm sector, there is no way to reliably measure emissions, she tells the house, but never the less farmers can benefit from the scheme.
She segues into a tribute to the work of Windsor and Oakeshott in this regard.
Meanwhile, Kevin Rudd is sitting on the backbench, his thoughts no doubt elsewhere.
In answer to a Dorothy dixer, Gillard talks up the passage of the school funding legislation declaring that 6 out of 10 children are now covered by the school funding plan.
“That’s great news for children around the country,” she says, adding that it was time for the remaining conservative leaders to “step forward and put the children in their schools first”.
But Gillard has received a blow in her quest to get the remaining four states signed up to Gonski. Victoria has announced that it won’t be coming on board for the June 30 deadline. With Premier Napthine saying “we will not support Canberra bureaucrats running schools in Victoria”.
This means Gillard will only have got one conservative state - New South Wales. The government is still trying to round up the Labor state of Tasmania.
Gillard once again showing she is a cool customer. Delivering an answer on carbon pricing as though this is just any other old day in question time.
Gillard puts a positive spin on Napthine’s letter about Gonski, saying it is a “step forward”. “I am willing to negotiate with the Victorian Premier in good faith to deliver an outcome for Victorian schools.”
Tony Abbott asks Julia Gillard whether she will bring forward the election date to August 3. Gillard says, in a message directed as much to caucus as to the opposition; “I can assure him and I can assure the Australian people that as prime minister I am getting on with the job”.
She outlines a resume of what the government is doing on education, energy, the Asian century and the rest.
Abbott is moving to suspend standing orders to call on the government to end its internal arguments and get on with governing the country and “restoring the selection of the prime minister to the people”.
Abbott tells parliament: “We all wished the Prime Minister well when she came into office.”
He said that he had been very conscious, as the father of three daughters, what a milestone in our public life had been reached.
But the Prime Minister’s leadership had been paralysed by acts of treachery and betrayal. These included the betrayal of Kevin Rudd, and of the Australian people over the carbon tax.
There was also the betrayal of independent Andrew Wilkie and of former speaker Harry Jenkins, who had been pushed out for Peter Slipper.
“We have seen enough [of minority government]. We know it doesn’t work. Why should we limp on for another 80 days?” Abbott told parliament.
He said that the Australian people knew that their future was as much in the hands of unelected union leaders as much as elected MPs.
“It’s all about the unions - I say ‘forget the unions, let’s think about the people.’”
Manager of Opposition Business Christopher Pyne asked who could serve on the frontbench of this “apparent white knight”. He said some seven ministers would be forced to resign if Rudd takes over.
Leader of the House Anthony Albanese said that “angry Tony” had been put aside for “human Tony” who said he was moving the motion with regret.
He said on the second last sitting day, not a single policy idea had been put forward by Abbott.
The opposition believed it had a right to the government benches.
Tony Abbott’s attempt to suspend standing orders is defeated by 73-74, with the crossbenchers split.
Sky news is reporting that many Labor MPs have not yet seen the petition for a special caucus meeting.
Gillard backer Laurie Ferguson reaffirms that he was “very strongly” supporting the PM. “I’m impressed that, as ever, she is holding the line and not being pushed around,” he tells The Conversation.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr has rearranged his domestic connection ahead of a proposed trip to Indonesia, in the expectation of a caucus meeting.
Carr will be a vote for Rudd, in the March leadership affair it was speculated that he backed Rudd but he said in a news conference at the time that the Prime Minister had his support.
Victorian MP Steve Gibbons said as of 3:45pm: “I have not seen a petition calling for a spill, nor have I spoken to anybody else whose seen it”.
He said he had told Rudd sometime ago he would not vote for him. “Everybody is pretty much over it all, pissed off about how its all gone, and want to get out of here and go back and work in their electorates,” Gibbons told The Conversation.
Gillard has approached Sky to go live on air and will appear shortly.
Gillard has called a ballot for the leadership at 7pm tonight and affirmed she will fight for her position.
Gillard declares that the loser of the ballot should leave politics, and says she will do so if defeated.
She says that the leadership must be settled once and for all and anybody who believes they should be leader should stand. “This is it. There are no more opportunities,” she said.
The best way to get a final settlement is for the loser to depart politics, Gillard says.
Gillard says that apparently a petition was circulating calling for a ballot, but she has not seen it. She describes it as the “political equivalent of the loch ness monster” - which everyone talks about but no one has actually seen.
In a gibe at the Rudd forces, Gillard says the normal practice in these situations is to directly approach the incumbent the two shake hands then have the contest, but this had not happened in this case.
Gillard’s decision to call on a very quick ballot, giving minimum time for lobbying, is a repeat of what she did in March.
Someone’s pitying the the football fans, Triple J Hack’s Julia Holman tweeted:
Kate Lundy has just tweeted:
I will be supporting @JuliaGillard. Proudly. Again.— Kate Lundy (@KateLundy) June 26, 2013
The Liberals are quickly on the job with a new video about Labor dysfunction, including clips negative character references about Rudd.
Kevin Rudd will make an announcement at 5pm.
Victorian MP Michael Danby, a Gillard supporter, said he would expect Rudd to give the same undertaking as Gillard about quitting politics if he was defeated. “Enough is enough,” Danby said.
He believed Labor’s situation was a function of the hung parliament which had meant that indiscipline of people had been tolerated because every vote was needed. He pointed in particular to former whip Joel Fitzgibbon, who agitated for Rudd while in the whip’s position, Fitzgibbon had done things “beyond the pale”.
We will bring you a full transcript of the Prime Minister’s statement soon.
Gillard has just pulled out of her engagement to address the Minerals Council of Australia in Canberra tonight. She will be replaced by Resources Minister Gary Gray.
It is being reported that Rudd will match Gillard’s commitment to quit politics if he loses.
Here is the full transcript of Julia Gillard’s interview with David Speers on Sky News.
HOST: Prime Minister, thank you for your time. Will you call a leadership ballot?
PM: Thank you David for this opportunity.
As you’ve been reporting, and others are reporting, there is apparently a petition circulating within the Labor Party to call for a leadership ballot.
I haven’t seen this petition.
Call me old fashioned, but the way in which these things are normally done is a challenger approaches the leader of the Labor Party and asks them to call a ballot for the leadership, you shake hands and then a ballot is held.
That hasn’t happened. But in these circumstances I do think it’s in the best interests of the nation – and in the best interests of the Labor Party – for this matter to be resolved.
So, whilst I haven’t been approached by anyone saying that they wish to be Prime Minister, or Labor leader, it is my intention to call a ballot for the Labor leadership at 7PM tonight.
HOST: And you will stand?
PM: Yes I most certainly will stand. I actually believe that politics, government, is about purpose.
It’s not about personalities. It’s about values and getting the big things done that the nation needs.
And even today in the midst of what has been a fair bit of hurly burly I’ve been very focused on our education reforms and improving schools for every child. That’s my focus.
HOST: Will you win this ballot?
PM: Well David, I do want to say to you because I believe politics is about purpose – not about personality – that going into this ballot tonight I think that everyone involved should accept a few conditions on the ballot, should come to understand the true significance of the ballot.
First and foremost, anybody who believes that they should be Labor leader should put themselves forward for this ballot.
This is it.
There are no more opportunities.
Tonight is the night and this is it.
Number two, because politics is not about personality, all of these issues need to be resolved tonight.
We cannot have the Government or the Labor Party go to the next election with a person leading the Labor Party and a person floating around as the potential alternate leader.
In those circumstances I believe anybody who enters the ballot tonight should do it on the following conditions: that if you win, you’re Labor leader; that if you lose, you retire from politics.
HOST: You are agreeing to do that?
HOST: If you lose tonight you will leave Parliament at the election?
And I think that that is the right thing to do for the nation and for the political party I lead, and I hope to lead following the ballot.
We cannot be in a circumstance where the nightly news has been as the nightly news has been for much of my prime ministership if the truth be told, where I have been in a political contest with the Leader of the Opposition, but I’ve also been in a political contest with people from my own political party.
No leader should be in that position; certainly no leader should be in that position in the run up to an election.
And so tonight, this is it, finished. I am asking my political party to endorse me as a leader and Prime Minister of purpose.
People will make their decision but having made their decision it’s over and the best way of it being over is for the person not successful to retire from politics.
HOST: As you indicate, this issue has not left you throughout this parliamentary term.
This is the third time it’s coming to a head.
Who do you blame for that? Has Kevin Rudd really been an honest broker when he says he’s not interested in challenging?
PM: Well I’ll let my caucus colleagues decide all of that and judge the history.
What I would say for myself, and I know that these things are contested and spoken about in politics, what has always driven me in politics and will continue to drive me if I receive the trust of my colleagues tonight is getting things done in accordance with Labor values for a Labor purpose.
HOST: But Prime Minister, you said this earlier on in the year. Why does it keep coming back to this?
Do you accept any responsibility for the fact that so many of your colleagues want to bring this on again?
PM: I accept responsibility for my own conduct. People need to accept responsibility for their conduct.
And so I think your questions are perhaps best put to others.
What I can certainly tell you as Prime Minister and as Labor leader is I have never been diverted from that task and achieving the big things the country needs by all of this nonsense.
But I am, as a rational politician, aware how debilitating this nonsense is for my political party, for my parliamentary colleagues, which is why I am making it a contest where I think the only decent thing for anybody to do is to say that is it, tonight is the moment for caucus to decide.
I accept that outcome so fundamentally that if I am not successful I will not run at the next election.
I ask others to accept the outcome on the same basis.
And whether it’s me or whether it’s someone else who emerges from tonight’s contest, they can go to the next election leading a united team because there is no one seeking to divert attention from Labor’s re-election campaign.
HOST: You said you have not seen this petition. Has anybody approached you to call on you to bring about a spill?
PM: No they have not and I have been wryly joking with some of my colleagues that this petition is the political equivalent of the Loch Ness monster. Everybody says that it exists but nobody has actually got the photograph of the Loch Ness monster.
HOST: And you haven’t spoken to anyone who has seen it?
PM: No I haven’t spoken to anyone who has seen it.
HOST: Do you doubt its existence?
PM: Look, David, I don’t know.
What I do know, and I don’t want to be critical of your honourable profession during the course of this interview.
What I do know is that when things get like this there are all sorts of claims and counter claims but I’ve got an obligation to the nation.
We are talking about who leads the nation.
I’m not going to let that speculation run endlessly.
I’m not going to have this Parliament, when we’ve still got business to do and big things to get done, end up being subject to media crews cannoning up and down parliamentary corridors in the hope of catching someone that they can then get half a sentence from.
That’s not the way I want to do things so let’s get it done.
HOST: Just getting back to the earlier question, how confident are you that you will still be Prime Minister this evening?
PM: Well I wouldn’t be putting myself forward unless I had a degree of confidence about the support of my parliamentary colleagues.
I certainly have very much received good support from my closest cabinet colleagues, people who are doing very good and important work for the country.
This is a pressurised time. People will make a decision. The important thing is that people keep in their mind as they walk into that room what is in the best interests of the nation, what is in the best interests of the Labor Party.
I answer those questions by saying what’s in the best interests of the nation and the Labor Party is to have a sense of values and purpose and discipline and that is why I am shaping up tonight’s ballot like that.
HOST: In a nutshell then, if this is your final pitch publicly before that caucus ballot tonight, why are you a better Prime Minister than Kevin Rudd?
PM: I will speak to caucus colleagues about the way in which caucus colleagues vote but I am happy to answer your question generally about why I have done this job and why I seek to continue to do this job.
I came into politics to make a difference.
I came into politics believing government could be about providing opportunity and it wouldn’t matter whether you came from a rich background or a poor background, you’re a migrant, you’re an indigenous Australian, you were entitled to lead a life of opportunity partnered with your own endeavour and hard work.
That’s how I’ve lived my life and that’s how I’ve brought the reforms that we’ve focussed on as a government, nothing more important than the school funding reform.
These are Labor values, Labor purpose. That’s what drives me.
I’m not interested in public accolades, I’m not interested in applause. I’m not interested in any of that personality politics. I’m interested in getting things done.
HOST: But do you think Kevin Rudd does not share those Labor values that you just articulated?
PM: Mr Rudd can speak for himself and I would not be presumptuous enough to speak for him.
HOST: But if he ends up leading Labor again tonight, do you fear for the future of the Government and the party?
PM: I’m not being drawn about hypotheticals beyond tonight’s ballot.
HOST: Well Prime Minister, we know you do have a busy few hours ahead, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
PM: Thanks David.
Here is Kevin Rudd.
“I will be a candidate,” Rudd says.
“Many, many MPs have requested me for a long, long time to contest the leadership.”
Rudd says “it’s time for this matter to be resolved.” He says the voices of the Australian people have had a “huge affect on me” - more than the pressure from his colleagues. Thousands of Australians had said to him they were genuinely fearful of what Tony Abbott would do if he won government.
Rudd gave three reasons for abandoning his earlier pledge to not challenge for the leadership: requests from colleagues, a belief that people deserved a competitive choice at the election, and a fear that as things were Labor faced the greatest landslide since federation.
He said he didn’t “fudge” the fact he had changed his position and he accepted full responsibility for his statements.
In March he said he would never be leader of the party. Rudd has promised that if he is elected when caucus meets at 7:00pm there will be no “retribution” or “paybacks” against his critics in the party.
He has matched Gillard’s promise to quit politics at the election if he is defeated.
He refused to take any questions, declaring he had to zip to continue his work before the ballot.
What was notable about Rudd’s appearance was that he played heavily to his strengths, stressing that he was acting in response to the feedback from the Australian public.
He said that “thousands” of Australians had conveyed their fears about an Abbott government and raised the prospect of the Coalition bringing back some version of WorkChoices under a different name.
Rudd didn’t try to walk away from his previous unequivocal proclamation that he would never again seek to be leader, but simply gave several reasons why he was breaking his word.
If Rudd is elected, there will be big changes in the government with Anthony Albanese expected to become deputy leader and Chris Bowen expected to become treasurer. Several ministers have said they will not serve under Rudd.
Here is the full transcript of Kevin Rudd’s presser.
Thank you for gathering. My fellow Australians. My fellow members of the Australian Parliamentary Labor Party. Today I am announcing that I will be a candidate for the position of Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party. I am advised that the Chair of the Parliamentary Labor Party has been collecting a petition of members, about a third in number, which requested that a meeting of the Party be held to resolve the question of the Party’s leadership. Of course, Julia’s statement of half an hour or so ago removes the need for such a petition. The truth is, many, many MP’s have requested me for a long, long time to contest the leadership of the Party because of the parlour circumstances we now face. And perhaps less politely, various Ministers have been free and frank in their public advice to me as to the desirability to contest the leadership in recent days. For the nation’s sake, I believe it’s time for this matter to be resolved. The second and more important reason for contesting the leadership is the tens and thousands of ordinary Australians, members of the Australian public who have been asking me to do this for a very long time. And it’s your voices, the voices of the Australian people; it’s those voices that have had a huge effect on me. More so than the voices I happen to hear around the corridors of this building. What literally thousands of Australians have said to me over the last year or so is that they are genuinely fearful of what Mr Abbott could do to them if he’s elected, not only elected with a massive majority, including a majority in the Senate, which he is currently on track to do.
Last time Mr Abbott’s party had absolute power, they brought in work choices. People are afraid, they are very afraid, that they will try to do it again. Under a different name of course, but no one forgets work choices. Australian families are afraid of what Mr Abbott could do to penalty rates and overtime. What could happen to their jobs, what it could do to pensions.
And what i could do to the environment. And the truth is if we are all being perfectly honest about it right now is that we are on course for a catastrophic defeat, unless there is change. And so today i am saying to you the people of Australia, I’m seeking to respond to your call That I’ve heard from so many of you to do what i can to prevent Mr Abbott from becoming prime minister. There is a third reason for contesting the leadership as well. I believe that all Australians whatever their politics want a real choice at this election. A real choice. At present if you talk to them long and hard, they don’t feel as if they’ve got one. And they are frustrated that we are denying them one. They are angry that we are leaving them with little choice at all other than to vote for Mr Abbott. Australian want a real policy debate on our vision for the countries future and Mr Abbotts vision for the future of our economy and jobs, on national security, on education, on health, on climate change and how we would make these competing visions work. This has now become urgent for the future of the economy in particular. I believe that what the country needs now is strong, proven, national, economic leadership to deal with a formidable new challenge Australia now faces with the end of the decade long china resources boom and its impact on Australian jobs and living standards into the future.
Given that our economic relationship with China alone now accounts for nearly 10% of the total size of our economy. This is a massive new challenge.
Diversification and productivity are no longer important for Australia, they are essential for Australia, if we are to protect our jobs and maintain our living standards.
Mr Abbott’s alternative economic policy is to copy the British conservatives – launch a national slash and burn, austerity drive and drive the economy into recession as happened in Britain. A double dip and almost a triple dip recession in the United Kingdom.
I therefore believe, with all my heart that I owe it to my country to offer the Australian people a viable alternative, for them to choose the future they want for themselves. Their jobs and their families - because these big economic questions will affect us all and sooner than we think.
It is time for proven national economic leadership.
These are the three core reasons why I have changed my position on the leadership. The request that I have received from my colleagues, my belief that the Australian people deserve a competitive choice at the next election and my fear that if we don’t offer it Mr Abbott will win by the biggest landslide since Federation. Unleash an assault on the people who rely upon us the Australian Labor Party and those of us in the Australian Labor government to protect them.
I do not seek to fudge the fact that I have changed my position, I’ve simply given you the reasons today that I have done so.
I accept full responsibility for my previous statements on the leadership and I’ll leave it to you , the good people of Australia to judge whether I have made the right call.
If I win this ballot, every effort I have in my being will be dedicated to uniting the Australian Labor Party. No retributions, no pay backs, none of that stuff. It’s pointless, it’s old politics.
The values which drive our movement are those things which should unite us. For those ministerial colleagues and friends who choose to serve and who want to serve, my general principle will be to embrace them in serving. For those who believe they cannot serve, I wish them well, thank them for their service and welcome the opportunity to renew the government. If I lose, of course, I would announce that I would not contest the next election, and I thank Julia for making the same commitment.
Friends, my fellow Australians, I love this country of ours and I’m doing what I honestly believe to be in the best interest of Australia. And to my friends in the media, you’ve heard me say this a million times, I have an hour and 40 minutes to speak to a number of friends in the Parliamentary Labor Party about what will happen here in this room at7pm, so I’ve gotta zip, thank you.
Wayne Swan is sticking close and spruiking his leader:
.@JuliaGillard is the toughest person I know – she’s a remarkable PM who I know will beat Tony Abbott on Sept 14— Wayne Swan (@SwannyDPM) June 26, 2013
Wayne Swan has followed up his earlier endorsement of Julia Gillard:
In all my yrs in politics, I’ve never met anyone with a Labor heart like @juliagillard’s. Hers is a true Labor Govt driven by Labor values.— Wayne Swan (@SwannyDPM) June 26, 2013
And Labor MP Andrew Leigh has added a bit of heavy humour to the proceedings:
Rudd camp sources say there is genuine confidence that he has the numbers and believe there could be a bandwagon effect.
Meanwhile, Chief Government Whip Chris Hayes has organised a State of Origin function at the National Press Club tonight. “He won’t be seeing Labor members until the second half,” one of his colleagues quipped.
Hayes was previously a Gillard supporter but is now expected by the Rudd camp to be on their side.
One of Gillard’s loyal supporters and personal friends, who stuck through thick and thin, even to the extent of taking the poisoned chalice of the immigration portfolio just tweeted:
Confident that @JuliaGillard has support of caucus— Brendan O'Connor (@BOConnorMP) June 26, 2013
Message for the future: the hazards of organising functions in the last week of the parliament.
The Guardian Australia is having its launch in parliament tonight, but its blogger, my former Age colleague Katharine Murphy has just tweeted that she won’t be there.
The Minerals Council dinner will have a few empty chairs as well, at least in its early stages.
Bill Shorten is talking to the media in a few minutes.
Bill Shorten about to start.
Shorten has formally switched his support to Rudd, which should boost his vote.
“I have now come to the view that Labor stands the best chance to defend the legacies of this term of government … if Kevin Rudd is our leader,” Shorten said.
Shorten’s position has been long speculated on, but up till this afternoon he insisted he was still supporting Gillard. He told his news conference the issue had been weighing on his mind for weeks.
“This is not an easy decision for me personally,” he said.
Shorten was one of those who masterminded the 2010 coup which installed Gillard.
Shorten has got a quick backlash from a dedicated Gillard supporter:
So Shorten has joined the ranks of the treacherous, I won't be joining him!— Steve Gibbons (@SteveGibbonsMP) June 26, 2013
Labor MPs are making their way into the caucus room to vote, a contrast to the 2010 coup when Rudd, faced with overwhelming numbers against him, decided not to contest the ballot. Gillard is determined to fight to the end.
Gillard arrives at the meeting surrounded by supporters. Kevin Rudd walks in by himself - an interesting decision.
While we wait for the result of the ballot, here is Bill Shorten’s full statement:
What guides me each day is what is in the best interests of our nation, our democracy and the Australian people.
The Australian labour movement is a cause that I believe passionately in and it is a cause that I believe is greater than any individual. It is a cause – a movement – that I have lived and worked for my entire adult life.
I believe this government has delivered once in a generation, nation changing reforms that are true to Labor’s core values.
These are the things that we must unite behind and fight for
A national disability insurance scheme
A better education for our kids
A secure retirement income
I believe that Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party is a once in a generation risk to Australia’s future and would take the nation backwards.
It is the wish of the Caucus for a ballot to be held to determine the leadership of the Party.
There are 101 members of Caucus, each with a single vote to cast.
I have carefully considered my position, and have come to the view that Labor stands the best chance of continuing to deliver nation changing reforms under the leadership of Kevin Rudd.
I understand that this position may come at great personal cost to me, and it has weighed heavily on my mind.
I am a great admirer of Julia Gillard.
What we have managed to achieve in Government under her leadership is remarkable. BUT the future of the nation and the Labor Party is at stake here, and therefore I am changing my vote tonight to Kevin Rudd.
The Australian public want a choice at this coming election, and I believe that Kevin Rudd leading us to the election gives our people, my colleagues, the best chance of winning that election.
The achievements of the Rudd and Gillard Governments are many - and it is these achievements that I want to fight for - to make sure they endure, to make sure they are delivered, and to finish the job that Labor started.
If Julia Gillard wins the leadership ballot then I wish her well and offer my resignation from Cabinet. Regardless I pledge to campaign to the utmost of my abilities to ensure that Labor wins the election.
As I have said, this is not an easy decision for me personally. There will even be friends who don’t agree with my decision.
But my personal view is that this is the best decision and in the best interests of Australia and the Labor Party.
These causes are bigger than all of us individuals in this particular time of Government.
Stay with us, a result on the vote can’t be far away. We expect there is probably a vote on the deputy as well.
Meanwhile, there is a meeting in the Coalition party room at 8pm.
Kevin Rudd has defeated Julia Gillard for the leadership of the Labor Party by 57-45.
So far there has been no spill for the deputy, but Wayne Swan is now making a statement to the caucus. Both Gillard and Rudd addressed the caucus before the vote.
Government whip Chris Hayes described the caucus room mood as somber.
“Any of these challenges are particularly emotional,” he said.
Swan has resigned as deputy prime minister and the government’s senate leader Stephen Conroy, who is Communications Minister, has also quit, meaning that three out of four of the leadership group has gone.
Finance Minister Penny Wong is reported to have won the position of Senate leader - a woman PM gone, but a woman is elevated to a more junior position in the leadership team.
Labor strategist Bruce Hawker, who is very close to Rudd says; “tomorrow it all starts in earnest”.
Trish Crossin was dumped by Gillard from her Northern Territory Senate seat for Gillard’s “Captain’s pick” Nova Peris. Crossin leaves the Senate mid next year. She just tweeted:
Crossbencher Andrew Wilkie has given Rudd some good news, here is his statement:
I have written to Kevin Rudd indicating that I will provide him confidence in the House of Representatives in the event that her Excellency the Governor-General commissions him as Prime Minister.
It’s not my business to takes sides in the Labor Party leadership.
But I’ve come to the conclusion that the public interest is best served by a smooth transition to the new Prime Minister.
So I will not support any no-confidence motion in the Government or in the Prime Minister simply on the basis of this leadership change.
A federal election is scheduled for 14 September. Certainty, and the public interest, is not served by a no-confidence vote undoubtedly leading to a snap House of Representatives election.
An election before 3 August would necessitate a subsequent half-Senate election within 12 months at an additional cost to the Australia taxpayer of $150m.
I hope my cross-bench colleagues move quickly to state their positions on tonight’s developments because it’s not in the national interest to now have a long period of uncertainty.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Liberals once again shy away from the no confidence motion, given that Rudd has the numbers with the crossbenchers.
Albanese and Simon Crean are tussling for the deputy prime ministership, with Albanese the clear favourite.
Crean was the one who tried to get the leadership settled in March, but Rudd wouldn’t come to the party. Crean said then, he would make himself available for deputy.
Craig Emerson and Joe Ludwig are also reported to have resigned from the cabinet. Emerson, a former partner of Gillard’s has been one her loyal supporters vociferous advocates.
Joe Ludwig is the son of Bill Ludwig, of Australian Worker’s Union fame.
While Rudd has the numbers among the crossbenchers on a no-confidence motion, Rob Oakeshott has said tonight he has still not determined his position.
Anthony Albanese becomes the new deputy prime minister, defeating Simon Crean by 61-38 votes with three informal.
Victoria’s Jacinta Collins has become deputy leader of the Senate (with Penny Wong as leader), making it an all female Senate leadership team.
Greg Combet has said in a statement that he has been a strong supporter of Julia Gillard and therefore “I believe it is appropriate that I resign from my position as Minister for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation.”
“This is the right thing to do,” Combet says in his statement.
The ministerial resignations have turned into a mass exoduses which will be a quick test of Rudd’s leadership.
Combet says in the statement he welcomes the resolution of the leadership.
“It is now important that Mr Rudd has a clear opportunity to argue Labor’s case and to appoint his own team to take up the fight to Tony Abbott,” he said.
Ministers to resign so far Wayne Swan, Stephen Conroy, Craig Emerson and Greg Combet.
Craig Emerson has just released a statement saying he would not contest the election.
He says Gillard has been “a great reforming prime minister, in the great Labor tradition.”
“I owe her a big debt of gratitude for putting her confidence in me and entrusting me with responsibilities that are so important to Australia’s future,” he said.
Emerson, who has been Tertiary Education Minister as well as Trades Minister, says he hopes that Gillard’s needs based policies for schools endures. Rudd has been reported in the media as having doubts about the Gonski plan.
Gillard has a press conference coming up very soon.
We still haven’t heard any word of schools minister Peter Garrett who recently said he wouldn’t serve with Rudd.
Wayne Swan will also say something, shortly after Gillard’s comments.
Julia Gillard’s speaks to the media - dignified and feisty. She says she will soon leave to see the Governor-General.
She recalls she had the “overwhelming support” of her colleagues when she took up the prime ministership, but for most of her time as leader she faced a minority government and “internal division. It has not been an easy environment.”
She said she is proud of what her government has achieved, listing health reform, carbon pricing, disability insurance and work on Australian schools among other achievements.
Stressing the importance of schools reform Gillard says this is almost completed and “it needs to be part of the continuing Labor project to get it done.”
In a message to her colleagues Gillard says “don’t lack the guts, the fortitude, the resilience to go out there with our Labor agenda and win the election.” The party should put divisions behind it and unite.
Gillard said her experience as a female prime minister would make it easier for the next woman and women after that.
Here is the full transcript of Gillard:
As you would probably be aware Kevin Rudd has been elected as leader of the Federal parliamentary Labor Party.
I congratulate Mr Rudd on his election. In view of his election I have written to the Governor-General asking her to commission Rudd as prime minister of Australia.
I will shortly leave from this Parliament to see the Governor-General on this matter.
In accordance with the pledge I gave earlier today I announce that I will not recontest the Federal electorate of Lawler at the forthcoming election.
I will have time in the coming weeks to be back home in my electorate and to say hello and goodbye to the community that I’ve had the absolute privilege of representing in this Parliament since 1998. So I will keep comments about my electorate until that time.
Three years ago I had the very great honour of being elected as Labor leader. It followed having the honour of being elected as deputy leader and Deputy Prime Minister following the 2007 election. This privilege was truly humbling.
I thank the Australian Labor Party for that privilege and I thank the Australian people for their support. When I first put myself forward for consideration as Labor leader in 2010 I had the overwhelming support of my colleagues to do. I thank them for that and I thank them for giving me the opportunity to not only to serve the nation, but to serve as the first female prime minister of this country. In the years in which I’ve served as prime minister, predominantly, I have faced a minority Parliament and faced internal division within my political party.
It has not been an easy environment to work in. But I am pleased that in this environment, which wasn’t easy, I have prevailed to ensure that this country is made stronger and smarter and fairer for the future.
It has been the defining passion of my life that every Australian child gets a great opportunity at a life of work and the dignity that comes with work.
I am very proud of what this government has achieved, which will endure for the long term. Very proud of the way in which we achieved health reform, against the odds, with newly elected conservative leaders. Very pleased that we pushed through and put a price on carbon - an historic reform that will serve this nation well and required us to have the guts and tenacity to stare down one of the most reckless fear campaigns in this nation’s history.
What we have achieved through Disability Care to launch on 1 July this year - apparently an obvious reform to everyone now but something that it took this Labor Government to get done and I am very proud of it.
I am very proud too of the work we have done in Australian schools. Today we passed the legislation which means 60 per cent of schoolchildren are covered by our new reforms. But this great Labor mission must be concluded, not only in the days that remain to the 30th of June, but in the days beyond by Labor winning the Federal election.
It has been the defining passion of my life that every Australian child gets a great opportunity at a life of work and the dignity that comes with work, gets a great opportunity for the education that they should have and that reform is almost completed and it needs to be part of the continuing Labor project to get it done.
I’m also very proud of having commenced the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse in institutional settings. This Royal Commission is working its way around the country. I believe it will have many years of work in front of it but it will change the nation. It will change individual lives as people get to come forward and tell their story.
It will change the nation because we will learn how to better protect our children for the future.
I’m also very proud of the foreign policy achievements of this Government. Things people said couldn’t be done we have done, particularly we have strengthened both our alliance with the US while taking a major stride forward in our relationship with China. I’m very pleased too that we have taken big strides forward in other relationships including our relationship with India.
I am confident that I leave the prime ministership having strengthened the relationship with our major partners, every one of them. I also believe the work we have done in Afghanistan is something to be proud of as an Australian nation.
One of the things that has most delighted me as Prime Minister and before that as Deputy Prime Minister has been getting to know our Defence Force personnel. I can’t claim that I came out of opposition with any great experience in defence or any great exposure to Australian Defence Force personnel. Now I have had both experience in defence and that exposure and whilst there are issues to address in our Defence Force about the treatment of women overwhelmingly the men and women of our ADF are great Australians and getting to know them has been a real privilege.
I have, either as Prime Minister or as Acting Prime Minister, attended 24 funerals for soldiers lost in Afghanistan. I’m very aware of the courage and the sacrifice and part of being Prime Minister has been being there for those families in their darkest moments.
My colleagues through all of this journey have provided me with great support and I want to thank them for that great support.
I say to my caucus colleagues: don’t lack the guts, don’t lack the fortitude, don’t lack the resilience to go out there with our Labor agenda and to win this election. I know that it can be done.
They defied political gravity time after time to provide me with more support as the leader of the Labor Party when the going got incredibly tough. When all of those that read polls and do the commentary on them were saying that there was only one logical conclusion, and that was to change the leader, my colleagues showed courage, they showed determination, they showed spine in the face of that kind of pressure. They showed conviction in our Labor project and in our Labor cause. They showed belief in the agenda of this Labor Government.
I understand that at the caucus meeting today, the pressure finally got too great for many of my colleagues. I respect that. And I respect the decision that they have made. But I do say to my caucus colleagues: don’t lack the guts, don’t lack the fortitude, don’t lack the resilience to go out there with our Labor agenda and to win this election. I know that it can be done.
And I also say to my caucus colleagues that that will best be done by us putting the divisions of the past behind us, and uniting as a political party, making sure we put our best face forward at the forthcoming election campaign, and in the years beyond.
I want to just say a few remarks about being the first woman to serve in this position. There’s been a lot of analysis about the so-called gender wars. Me playing the so-called gender card because heavens knows no-one noticed I was a woman until I raised it, but against that background, I do want to say about all of these issues, the reaction to being the first female Prime Minister does not explain everything about my prime ministership, nor does it explain nothing about my prime ministership.
I’ve been a little bit bemused by those colleagues in the newspapers who have admitted that I have suffered more pressure as a result of my gender than other prime ministers in the past but then concluded that it had zero effect on my political position or the political position of the Labor Party. It doesn’t explain everything, it doesn’t explain nothing, it explains some things. And it is for the nation to think in a sophisticated way about those shades of grey.
What I am absolutely confident of is it will be easier for the next woman and the woman after that and the woman after that. And I’m proud of that.
Can I say now a few thank yous, particularly to my colleague Wayne Swan who I think will address you shortly. He has been fantastic. I have had loyal and capable colleagues. I want to thank them for their dedication and determination. Politicians aren’t fashionable in the Australian community but take it from me even as I go out the door, politicians work incredibly hard and overwhelmingly, people come into this Parliament with a sense of service and that certainly defines my colleagues - their sense of service to the nation.
I want to thank the people who have worked with me. I want to thank the staff at The Lodge and Kirribilli House. I want to thank the AFP, what’s a few sandwiches between friends? Don’t worry about it.
I want to thank my personal staff, led ably by Ben Hubbard. Unfortunately it is becoming part of our political debate to draw staff members into the political contest. I think that’s wrong. I’ve always believed it’s wrong and I hope it desists now.
I would like to thank my electorate office staff, particularly Michelle Fitzgerald, Anne Carlos who have been with me since I was elected in 1998.
I would like to thank Tim and my family, and I would like to say as I’ve already said by way of text to my niece who is due to have a baby in July, look forward to the most meddlesome great-aunt in Australia’s history. Thank you very much.
Wayne Swan is talking now, recalling what he said in his maiden speech and saying how important it is that everyone in every postcode gets a “fair go”.
Meanwhile Peter Garrett joins the mass exodus. His statement is below.
Now that Kevin Rudd has been elected Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party, I am resigning my position as Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth and will not recontest the upcoming election as Member for Kingsford Smith.
I believe I have always acted in the best interests of the Party and the Government. I was a front-man who chose to be a team player and make a difference in politics. I do not, for one moment, regret that choice.
I want to place on record my thanks to colleagues, staff and the community for their enduring support. To my wife Doris and daughters Emily, May and Grace a huge thanks for their support too, and the love they have given me since I entered Parliament in 2004.
At all times I have endeavoured to represent the people of Kingsford Smith faithfully and in particular, to have secured the protection of Malabar Headland for the people of NSW.
It has been a privilege to serve as a loyal Cabinet Minister for nearly six years, having participated in a number of crucial reforms that only Labor Governments can achieve.
I am especially proud to have had stewardship of the most significant education reforms we have witnessed in Australia, like the national curriculum, first national teaching standards and much needed investment for literacy and numeracy and indigenous education.
This culminated in the passage into law today of the Australian Education Bill.
We now have a new, fairer funding system based on the Gonski review which will ensure the needs of young Australians are met regardless of where they live or how much money their parents earn.
I pay tribute to Julia Gillard for having the foresight, courage and tenacity to drive these reforms, that will give thousands of young Australians a better future.
I am also proud to have committed our government to a world class system of marine parks, placed the Kimberley region on our National Heritage list, introduced the first e-waste recycling scheme and ensured resale royalties for Australian artists, including Indigenous artists.
These along with a host of other significant actions across many portfolios, have been the mark of a truly reforming Labor Government.
Swan pays tribute to Gillard’s toughness as a leader and for her policy achievements.
He says that he will recontest his Queensland seat of Lilley.
Swan says a lot is on the line in the coming election campaign and warns that Abbott will embrace European style austerity policies.
Kevin Rudd is holding his fire until tomorrow. He will have quite a lot to talk about. We hope he has a good sleep.
Meanwhile, we are signing off now and will put up some analysis later in the night.
Change of plan. Rudd is about to speak, so we will bring you that.
Old habits never die it seems, Kevin Rudd has arrived late for his first news conference as Prime Minister, second time round. He is accompanied by new deputy Anthony Albanese.
Rudd says that in 2007 the Australian people elected him and he is now resuming the prime ministerial task with humilty, honour and a sense of energy and purpose.
He says there has been too much negativity all round in federal politics, and promises to change that.
Paying tribute to Julia Gillard, he says she had extraordinary intelligence, great strength and energy.
He was taking up the challenge of the prime ministership because “I don’t have it in my nature to stand idly by and have an Abbott government come to power by default”. Describing Abbott as a man “steeped in the power of negative politics”. Rudd says he has seen no evidence of real positive plans for Australia from the opposition leader.
“I see my role as Prime Minister in forging consensus wherever I can,” he says, adding that personal vitriol diminishes and demeans us all. “We can all do better than that.”
Rudd appealed to business:
“Let me say this to Australian business. I want to work closely with you. I have worked with you closely in the past, particularly during the GFC and there are some white knuckle moments there as the heads of the major banks will remember. We came through because we worked together. I am saying it loud and clear to businesses large and small across the country. In partnership we can do great things for the country’s future.”
Rudd concludes with a direct appeal to young voters, saying he understands why they have switched off, “please come back and listen afresh,” he says. “It’s important we get you engaged and with your energy we can start cooking with gas.”
Here is the full Rudd transcript:
In 2007 the Australian people elected me to be their Prime Minister.
That is a task that I resume today with humility, with honour and with an important sense of energy and purpose.
In recent years, politics has failed the Australian people. There has just been too much negativity all round. There’s been an erosion of trust. Negative destructive personal politics has done much to bring dishonour to our parliament but done nothing to address the urgent challenges facing our country, our communities, our families. In fact it’s been holding our country back.
And all this must stop, and with all my heart that is the purpose that I intend to pursue as Prime Minister.
I want to pause to acknowledge the achievements of my predecessor, Julia Gillard. She is a woman of extraordinary intelligence, of great strength and great energy. All of you here in the National Press Gallery and across the nation would recognise those formidable attributes in her and I know them having worked with her closely for some years. Also Julia, as Prime Minister, and prior to that Deputy Prime Minister has achieved much under the difficult circumstances of minority government.
And in doing so she has been helped by a group of dedicated Ministers and Members of Parliament whose contribution I also wish to acknowledge.
In Julia’s case let me say this, if it were not for Julia we would not have the Fair Work Act. If it were not for Julia, we would not have a national scheme which ensures that the literacy and numeracy performance of Australian schools is tested regularly and that interventions occur to lift those students who are doing poorly. She has been a remarkable reformer and I acknowledge those contributions again formally this evening.
I also wish to acknowledge the contribution of the Deputy Prime Minister, as he has been, Wayne Swan, with whom I have also worked intimately, in fact over several years. Working in the trenches, day in, day out, night in, night out. Here in Canberra, working together to prevent this country from rolling into global economic recession and avoiding mass unemployment.
So, Wayne, whatever our differences have been, I acknowledge your contribution here as part of that team which kept us out of a global catastrophe.
The question many of you will be understandably asking is why I am taking on this challenge.
For me it’s pretty basic, it’s pretty clear. I simply do not have it in my nature to stand idly by and to allow an Abbot government to come to power in this country by default.
I have known Mr Abbott for 15 years, since I was elected to this place the first time. I recognise his strengths. I also recognise, however, that Mr Abbott is a man steeped in the power of negative politics, and he’s formidable at negative politics. But I see no evidence of a real positive plan for our country’s future. I also passionately believe that the Australian people want all of us engaged in the national political life to work together, to come together whenever that is possible, and I see my role as Prime Minister in forging consensus wherever I am. Identifying our differences where they do in fact exist and without reverting to personal vitriol. That just diminished and demeans us all. We can do better than that. We can all do better than that.
You know, Australia is a great country. Having seen a few others in the world in my time, this is a fantastic place. We owe much to those who have come before us and we owe much to those who will come after us to ensure that what we have inherited is improved upon and not degraded. But you know something, we have a great future but that future is not guaranteed. As I’ve said once before, here in Australia we’ve got to make our own luck and we can. We’re good at it and if we work at it we can actually bring our future home securely.
In recent times, I’ve been thinking a lot about the state of the global economy. There are a lot of bad things happening out there. The global economy is still experiencing the slowest of recoveries. The China resources boom is over. China itself, domestically shows signs of recovery and when China represents such a large slice of our own economy, our jobs and our own opportunities for raising our living standards. The time has come for us to adjust to the new challenges. New challenges in productivity. New challenges also in the diversification of our economy.
New opportunities for what we do with processed foods and agriculture, in the services sector and also in manufacturing.
I’ve never changed my script or my belief. I never want to be Prime Minister of a country that doesn’t make things anymore. There’s a big future for Australian manufacturing under this Government.
Looking at our global economic circumstances, therefore, we have tough decisions ahead on the future of our economy. This means having a government that looks at growing the size of our economic pie as well as how it is distributed. And let me say this to Australian business: I want to work closely with you. I’ve worked with you closely in the past, particularly during the GFC and there were some white knuckle moments there as some of the heads of the major banks will remember. But we came through because we worked together and I’m saying it loud and clear to businesses large and small across the country, that in partnership we can do great things for the country’s future.
And for the Australians that depend on the success of your businesses to have a job, to have decent living standards and opportunities. Business is a group that this Government will work with very closely. What I want to see here in Canberra is for business and Labor to work together I don’t want to see things that drive business and Labor apart. We’ve been natural partners in the past and we can be again in the future. I intend to lead a Government that brings people together and gets the best out of them.
Before I conclude, let me say a word or two to young Australians. It’s clear that many of you, in fact far too many of you, have looked at our political system and the parliament in recent years and not liked or respected much of what you have seen. In fact as I rock around the place, talking to my own kids, they see it as a huge national turn off. Well I understand why you have switched off. It’s hardly a surprise but I want to ask you to please come back and listen afresh. It’s really important that we get you engaged, in any way we can. We need you. We need your energy. We need your ideas. We need your enthusiasm and we need you to support us in the great challenges that lie ahead for the country. With your energy, we can start cooking with gas.
The challenges are great but if we’re positive and if we come together as a nation we can overcome each and every one of them.
We are finished for the night and resisting the temptation to say “gotta zip”.
An analysis piece will be up later tonight.