Howard predicts Rudd will roll Gillard
Former prime minister John Howard predicts Prime Minister Julia Gillard will be rolled by her predecessor Kevin Rudd before the next election.
Replying to a question on Ms Gillard's tenuous hold on the top job during a business lunch in Perth on Tuesday, Mr Howard said it was unfair to compare her to another former Labor prime minister who was brought down mid-term, Gough Whitlam.
"I think the comparison to Whitlam is unfair to him," he said to an eruption of laughter.
Mr Howard said it was a "bad political mistake" for the Labor Party to have dumped Rudd - the man who beat him at the 2007 federal election, at which he lost his own long-held Sydney seat of Bennelong.
"I've long held the view that if the Labor Party had not dumped Kevin Rudd, he would have won the last (2010) election outright," Mr Howard said.
The former Liberal leader said he believed the Labor Party would replace Ms Gillard, whose Newspoll approval rating is now just 28 per cent, before the next election.
"I think it is more likely than not they would bring back Kevin Rudd," he said.
"I know they don't like Mr Rudd. I know they've said rude things about him, and I know a lot of people might have to leave the government if he came back.
"But in the end, the instinct for political survival is very, very strong."
Perhaps not unexpectedly, Mr Howard said Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, whose approval rating is not much better than the prime minister's at 33 per cent, was doing an "astonishing job".
He denied Mr Abbott was getting an easy ride by the media on the back of Labor's woes, and said he had to fight hard for the the Liberal leadership.
On the question of billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer running for federal Treasurer Wayne Swan's seat of Lilley in Queensland, Mr Howard said he had to "run the gauntlet (of preselection) like anybody else".
Brought to you by