Can Gillard stay mute on the night she rolled Rudd?
Today’s National Press Club appearance by Prime Minister Julia Gillard was a pretty banal address - a lot more going forwards etc - with one exception: a question by Channel Nine’s Laurie Oakes.
Oakes put it to an uncomfortable looking Gillard that on the night of the leadership challenge there was actually a deal done with Rudd on a leadership handover - one that she reneged on that same night.
“Can I ask you is it true that Mr Rudd told you that night that he was working towards an October election,’’ Mr Oakes asked.
“Is it true that Mr Rudd indicated to you that if closer to the election polling showed that he as an impediment to the re-election of the government and that if that leading Labor figures ... agreed he would voluntarily stand aside.’’
Oakes then asked Gillard whether she had described Rudd’s offer for a deal as “sensible and responsible.”
Gillard stood awkwardly nodding throughout Oakes’ statements and then flat out refused to go near the question saying she wasn’t going to be “playing a rule-in, rule-out game”:
“I’ve made it very, very clear that I will never be speaking publicly about my discussions with Kevin Rudd on that night,” she said yesterday. “I think that’s an appropriate mark of respect between colleagues.
“It’s not my intention to canvass any of the matters that were discussed in that room. We went into that discussion on the basis that it was a confidential discussion between colleagues and I intend to respect that confidence for the rest of my life.”
A frustrated Oakes responded with something like “that’s a pretty easy way out though isn’t it?”
What Gillard is saying here is the confidence that had been agreed on between her and Rudd as colleagues and maybe friends (can’t imagine Rudd considers her much of a friend anymore though), be respected above the Australian peoples right to know how she became to be Prime Minister.
While Gillard’s rationale would hold water if she were to hold any other job in the country the fact is that she is an unelected Prime Minister. An unelected Prime Minister who booted a very popularly elected one before he could finish one term.
If Rudd and Gillard had agreed on horse trading the role at some point in that evening, why do the Australian people not have the right to some clarity about the circumstances around her ascension to the top job? Why does a Prime Minister who has not been elected have the right to withhold information on the basis of a professional confidence?
Or is this basically a moot issue, one for political tragics to obsess over, given that there’s going to be an election within the next few months anyway?
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