Live blog: The Rudd/Gillard leadership showdown
Welcome to The Punch team’s live blog of the Labor leadership showdown. All times are in AEDT. Refresh your browser for updates.
Head over to news.com.au for a blow-by-blow of the ballot, and check out The Punch’s Labor leadership coverage to date, then stick around here for all the blood, guts, glory and nerdy political chatter.
1.30pm: We’re signing off this blog. Will see you in our Question Time Live coverage from 2pm. Happy non-spill day…
1.13pm: Gillard is now being very nice about Kevin Rudd, saying his legacy as PM deserves to be honoured. If she’d done this a little while ago this whole debacle may not have become so nasty. Perhaps in the ugliness of the past few days Gillard realised the public doesn’t hate Kevin Rudd as much as she does. TMaguire
1.11pm: In a delightful piece of understatement Julia Gillard says “Australians have had a gut-full of seeing us focus on ourselves” and promises “that this political drama is over.”
12.59pm: Gillard has called a press conference for 1.10pm.
12.57pm: So Kevin Rudd has pledged to remain the Member for Griffith, both for now and after the next election. Anyone fearing he would quit his seat and blow-up the Government would be relieved, but as long as he’s sitting there on the back bench, he’ll be a thorn in the side of the Prime Minister. TMaguire
12.50pm: In a strong echo of his last concession speech, Rudd is listing his achievements as Foreign Minister, repeating the mantra “I’m proud of the fact”. He was never going to go without a last word.
12.46pm: Rudd’s a lot more emotionally stable than he was last time he was slaughtered in the Caucus room. No tears yet. He has pledged to “dedicate himself fully” to the re-election of the Gillard government.
12.45pm: Kevin Rudd says: “I accept the Caucus’s verdict, without qualification and without rancour.”
12.03am: The Greens have just put out a statement accusing the Government of using the leadership debacle to “sneak (a) nuclear waste dump under the radar”... clever Government… they sure got us. TMaguire
11.55am: While we sit in a holding pattern waiting for Rudd and Gillard to do their press conferences - put Question Time in your diary for 2pm. We’ll be running an interactive cover-it-live blog for what should be a raucous time in the House of Reps.
11.30am: PM walking out with a rather large, smiley entourage at her back, followed shortly by Kevin and his supporters. Looks like they’ll be talking later. DPiotrowski
11.21am: Now wondering what the five ministers who came out in support of Kevin Rudd - Martin Ferguson, Kim Carr, Anthony Albanese, Chris Bowen and Robert McClelland - are supposed to say to their boss. Question Time will be fun.TMaguire
11.17am: Official result - Gillard 71 - Rudd 31
11.15am: While we wait (again) - spare a thought for the 15 or so people who have lost their jobs after Rudd quit being Foreign Minister and moved to the back bench. TMaguire
11.09am: Hold the horses. Sky News’s David Speers is saying they’re still counting.
11.03am: Julia Gillard should harness the straight-talking she did last week in her post-ballot press conference. The worst thing she could do today is revert to moving-forward-into-the-new-economy repetition after such a great win. TMaguire
10.57am: The electorate staff in Kevin Rudd’s office must be groaning. What’s Kevin 24/7 going to do now? 2am meetings to plan out the message calendar for the local newspaper… TMaguire
10.53am: This result, which was widely predicted all weekend, is pretty humiliating for Kevin Rudd. Julia Gillard would be very relieved to have beaten Rudd so unequivocally. He might sit on the back bench trying to undermine her, but from today no one will be able to take his threats very seriously. TMaguire
10.54am: Reports it’s a Gillard win 73/29
10.45am: Mark Latham just made the point on Sky News, that Gillard would be relieved now to have finally shunted Kevin Rudd to the back bench. Having him on the front bench for the past year and a half would have been quite annoying. TMaguire
10.40am: From Malcolm Farr in Canberra: It could be important to remember that the biggest margin in a Labor leadership ballot since 1982 has been the 24 votes which made Simon Crean beat Kim Beazley in June, 2003. The smallest was two votes when Mark Latham defeated Kim Beazley in December, 2003. Will Kevin set a new record?
10.25am: From Dan Piotrowski: While we’re all waiting for the results, why not flick over to The Times of Oman. The national newspaper for the sultanate on the south-east coast of the Arabian Peninsula is all over our leadership kerfuffle:
Gillard seized power in a sudden Labor Party revolt in June 2010, backed by colleagues fed up with Rudd’s high-handed, non-consultative approach—a move that stunned voters who had elected the former diplomat in a landslide. Suddenly Australia had a female, atheist, unmarried, childless—and unelected—prime minister. Gillard told a bewildered public she had relieved Rudd of his duties in an unopposed party vote, calmly declaring that a “good government was losing its way”, but she has been questioned on what happened that night ever since.
10.14am: From Malcolm Farr in Canberra: Just one journalist has been allowed to wander down the corridor approaching the Labor Party room - former Malcolm Fraser press secretary David Barnett. As security guards checked camera crews did not have a lens over the line ruled in front of them Barnett, an older gentleman, strolled comfortably along the passageway reserved for MPs without being challenged, an arch Tory within eavesdropping distance of the inner Labor workings..
10.12am: Hold music…
10.05am: From Malcolm Farr in Canberra: Now the Gillard pack arrives, much smaller, only about 8. to Kevin’s 12. Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan by her side. There is at least one issue that unites the two. His name is Kevin.
10.05am: From Malcolm Farr in Canberra: The Opposition will be tempted to test Julia Gillard’s renewed leadership by moving a vote of no-confidence in the Prime Minister. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott would have to justify this against his pledge to reserve a motion for the most serious matters. An overwhelming re-endorsement of a Prime Minister hardly seems a serious matter.
10.02am: From Malcolm Farr in Canberra: Kevin Rudd arrives in a pack of, as far as I could count, 12 supporters. He perhaps wanted to create the illusion of mass support within Caucus. It was a last-minute show of defiance which could make the final result even sadder for Rudd, if pro-Gillard numbers counters are correct.
10.00am: From Ant Sharwood: I don’t know, maybe I was a full-time sports journalist for too long, but this leadership spill leaves me flat. It’s like a big title fight where you never actually get to see the boxers. You get the trash talk at the start, the chest puffery and hype, and at the end you get a winner with a raised arm. But in between? A contest behind closed doors. Pffft.
9.15am: From Dan Piotrowski: There’s only 15 minutes to go, meaning there’s ONLY 15 minutes for you to keep owning! Living! And loving! The spill. To quote Jessica Rudd last week:
We are participants. We have a voice and I think we should bloody well use it. Get up and say something. Say it loudly. Be heard. You might think Julia Gillard is the ant’s pants. Fab. Say it. You might think my Dad is ace. Cool. Write it. You might think everyone sucks. Scream it.
Let’s totally change the world. You’ve got 15 minutes.
9.40am: We’ve entered a weird world of the watched becoming the watchers. From Malcolm Farr in Canberra: Liberal Steve Ciobo has joined the spectators, and photographed some on the journalistic side of the fray. Reporters are being kept well back from the Labor party room.
9.35am: From Malcolm Farr in Canberra: By the way, the House of Representatives today will from noon consider social security legislation and two bills to help the Northern territory, plus a continued debate on a bill to help fund the fees of vocational, educational and training courses. Plus, Green Adam Bandt will introducing a bill today to help the Victorian nurses resolve their pay dispute. “Once Labor sorts their mess out, I hope they support my bill,’’ Mr Bandt tweeted today.
9.25am: Meanwhile - fans of Kevin Rudd swarm parliament house…
9.22am: Further to Bruce Hawker’s bad day (see 8.53am) from Malcolm Farr in Canberra: Campaign consultant Bruce Hawker says he might have made a bad career move backing Kevin Rudd so publicly. Hard to argue against that. But Hawker repeats that he hasn’t been a lobbyist for a couple of years, is not being paid by Kevin Rudd for his help. Meanwhile, tit-for-tat sniping has made sure Hawker and Stephen Conroy in particular will not be staunch friends ever again.
9.15am: From Malcolm Farr in Canberra: And still they come …Ministers who have been on the airwaves this morning include Simon Crean, Stephen Smith, Martin Ferguson, Rob McClelland, Stephen Conroy, Nicola Roxon, Tony Burke, Chris Bowen, Warren Snowdon, plus a range of back benchers.
9.07am: Gillard supporter and Punch contributor Richard Marles just sent us this:
Many have observed that Julia Gillard has never been known to raise her voice with her staff. Operating under a fraction of her pressure, I only wish I could make this claim about myself.
In the midst of difficulty, when the heat is on, it is Julia who keeps calm. When the rest of us are tired and ratty it is Julia whose humour remains in tact. These attributes are fundamental and they are astounding. Yet while it is good to know that our Prime Minister is nice what Australians need to know is that she is also tough and smart and she is working for you. Julia is the smartest person in the room who we all instinctively turn to. Her negotiating skills are legendary. Julia is the first Prime Minister since Curtin to have been asked by the Australia people to lead a government of negotiation: a minority government. And with all its attendant difficulties she has led a reformist government that has passed legislation at a greater rate than many majority governments.
The score is on the board: hundreds of thousands of jobs created, a national health and hospital system, record investments in education, the roll out of the NBN, a price on carbon, and ensuring the great resources boom benefits every Australian. Politics is the art of the possible and Julia makes possible what many others think to be impossible. In saying this it is also true that Kevin Rudd has made an incredible contribution to our country as both Foreign Minister and PM. None of these events take that away from him.
But now is the time to let Julia have a fair crack at being PM without the encumbrance of leadership speculation. Today is our one and only opportunity to do this.Julia is a great campaigner and she can win the next election provided the rest of us allow her and the whole team to have a red hot go at Tony Abbott.
9am: Independent Rob Oakeshott is standing by his determination to play kingmaker, not just for the ALP but the Coalition as well. Late last week Oakeshott, whose vote is propping up the minority-Gillard government, said if Kevin Rudd won this morning his first call would be to Malcolm Turnbull, to determine if Turnbull could command enough votes in the House of Reps to form government. Pretty self-important. As he arrived in Canberra last night Oakeshott said: “I am at a point where I am comfortable to take him (Tony Abbott) on. The Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce view of economics is dangerous for Australia, it is the wrong direction.” So he’s all about stability then. TMaguire.
8.53am: Someone who is having a bad day today is veteran Labor political consultant Bruce Hawker. Hawker has been doing the spruiking for his old friend Kevin Rudd, and went as far on the weekend as calling on Julia Gillard to step down and not contest the leadership. It was a pretty bold move from someone representing the underdog. He’s copping it from Labor MPs this morning, saying he can no longer be respected as a political analyst and advisor. He’s certainly burned a lot of political capital for no discernible gain. TMaguire.
8.50am: Forget the predictions of the press gallery… here’s Harry the croc’s verdict.
8.45am: From Malcolm Farr in Canberra: Residents of the instant TV village in front of Parliament House have been working hard to get a new perspective on something which effectively was decided last Friday. New camera angles, for instance. Minister Rob McClelland appeared on Seven staring earnestly at the camera. His interviewee, Mel of Mel and Kochie, was shown in a separate panel also with eyes straight ahead. But when a car passed behind Mel it immediately appeared behind McClelland. They actually were standing side-by-side but not looking at each other.
8.35am: From Malcolm Farr in Canberra: Today is expected to confirm that Kevin Rudd can never win a leadership ballot unless Julia Gillard gives her support. He had a sort-of leadership bid against Simon Crean in early 2003 and a real go late in 2003. He pulled out of the latter because he didn’t have the numbers. He tried again in 2005 after Mark Latham’s resignation and again pulled out before the ballot. Rudd defeated Kim Beazley in 2006 when Julia Gillard switched her votes to him. This time she will not be anywhere as generous. As Latham said in a recent column, “The first thing is Gillard can count and he can’t.”
8.32am: Observation - over the last two days a couple of Gillard-backers, including Stephen Conroy, have claimed that if this were a popularity contest Kylie Minogue would be the next prime minister. This total dismissal of how seriously voters take this mess is pretty offensive. TMaguire.
8:01am: Tired of listening to reporters interview other reporters? Sick of the politicians? Tune into Graham on YouTube. No slick artifice here, just a random guy making his own sound effects and tripping over his own tongue as he tries to explain the spill. (With thanks to Petra Starke for the link). It’ll help you understand why journos interview journos.
7:53am: According to Twitter, there are hordes of journos but no Labor MPs at the Parliament doors where the pollies usually lurk about trying to get their noggins in the press. Must be all having a nice long sleep in.
7:40am: Ten’s political editor Paul Bongiorno tells ABC’s Fran Kelly that Abbott and Gillard are two of the most unpopular leaders Australia has seen in a long, long - long - time.
7:36am: The numbers haven’t really changed. Gillard will win her tainted second chance. It will be interesting to see how Rudd reacts, in light of his folksy, dapper, cheery chatter of the last few days. He’s probably practising his shrugging and final shanking right now.
7:23am: “St Kevin’s greatest distraction, legend has it, was a woman who was determined to relieve him of his virtue. St Kevin threw himself into a bed of nettles to avoid being seduced and set fire to a handful of burning weeds to fend off his pursuer,” writes Fairfax scribe Tony Wright. Read into that what you will.
07:13am: It is very, very difficult to imagine anyone quietly retiring to the backbench after this despite all their chatter about post-disunity unity. Meanwhile, Labor Senator Doug Cameron is saying even Gillard’s supporters will be casting about for a different challenger soon.
7:07am: Any Punchers in our nation’s capital? It’s heading for a practically balmy 26 degrees, halfway between hellfire and icy damnation.
6:50am: Wonder whether any ‘third options’ are still nursing leadership ambitions over their morning coffee…
6:35am: Who cares what the people think? Who cares who’s in which camp? Harry the psychic croc has picked Gillard. Although apparently he viciously attacked the “meaty treat hanging from her face”. Mixed messages?
6:23am: Newspoll shows - surprise! - the people prefer Kev. The MPs whose votes actually count today already knew that. Can imagine Rudd’s people casually leaving The Aus open with the results showing all over Parliament House today just to nudge the undecided.
6:15am: This will not be the end, friends. It’s looking more likely that no one’s going to go quietly to the backbench. Today could be a fake climax. Very frustrating for everyone!
6:11am: The Daily Tele’s Simon Benson writes that Gillard’s camp was trying to force a “show and tell” of votes to intimidate MPs. Yet another kindergarten standover tactic… but then, Rudd’s been complaining about intimidation enough to make you think he wants you to think Gillard’s camp is a bunch of faceless bullies. Who benefits from the leak?
6:05am:If it wasn’t too early for a drinking game, you could have a cracker based on metaphors that involve carcasses, blood (did we already use that?), and death. It is too early, right?
6am: After five days, multiple press conferences, tears, jeers, and downright open abuse - the ballot for the leadership of the Australian Labor Party is almost here. At 10 am in Canberra the 103 members of the ALP Caucus will gather to decide if Julia Gillard gets to keep her job or Kevin Rudd will be given a second chance.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
@katedoak Love the 'gay click' reference. Sadly my comment wasn't good enough to be recorded.
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