Federal Politics


Opposition irresistibly drawn to Rudd as Gillard swats at moths

The Labor Party's leadership woes may have been downgraded from ''nail-chewing crisis'' to ''ominous niggle'' but they are still woes nonetheless.

Just when things were starting to look a little more rose-coloured, Labor's spectacles clouded over again with the publication of Tales from the Political Trenches (aka ''the McKew Spew''), which portrays Kevin Rudd as a prime minister stunned by his party's disloyalty and blind sided by a dodgy deputy.

We've heard it all before of course. But this time, it's coming with extra jalapeno-grade detail.

Yesterday, Julia Gillard dismissed the suggestion she had been impatient to seize the leadership, brushing it away with the kind of panicked nonchalance that one usually applies to dealing with Bogong moths.

''Look, I've dealt with all of these things on the public record extensively and dealing with all of this just simply isn't my focus,'' she told ABC Radio.

The flapping wasn't enough to convince Rudd, however, who conducted a special doorstop at Canberra airport, backing his version of the Koup that Killed Kevin. ''I don't make statements lightly,'' said the man who has never been shy of making statements.


''It's important that everybody associated with those [June 2010] events is honest about what happened so that the party and the government can move on to the big policy challenges of the future.''

Later, in question time, Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop was also in favour of more honesty. How come the PM had made ''many statements'' that she had always been pro-carbon pricing, when McKew's book reckoned Gillard had been ''vehemently'' opposed to taking the policy to an election? Hmmm?

Again, Gillard swatted at the Bogong. ''I've dealt with these matters on the public record on many occasions,'' she said, as she was drowned out by Coalition snorts of ''No you haven't!''

Gillard then contrasted the opposition's ''tired old fear campaign'' with the government's push to take Australia into the bright lights and opportunities of the Asian century. But this only resulted in heckles about ''moving forward'' and a request from Bishop to table pages 173 and 174 of the Trenches book (a ''very credible and balanced account''). History, it would seem, is easier to write than get rid of. Luckily for any Laborites indulging in a moment of despair, Tony Abbott had some advice.

''Obviously, the wounds run very, very deep inside the Labor Party as a result of the ruthless political assassination of a prime minister in his first term,'' the Opposition Leader told reporters at a Canberra truss manufacturer.

''I think the only way it will ever be over and behind them is if there is an election and a change of government.''

Now, the logic that Australia will only stop the Labor bloodletting by voting for the Coalition may sound a tad wiggly. But with Newspoll putting the government on equal footing with the opposition, you can't blame the guy for trying.

After all, 50-50 two-party-preferred, is one big scary moth.