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If he will step up, the PM's job is likely his


Sydney Morning Herald political and international editor

View more articles from Peter Hartcher


In his hands: Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

In his hands: Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

The prime ministership is now within Kevin Rudd's grasp if he is prepared to seize it. But it's not available on the terms he has been demanding.

The central question in Australian politics today is this - is Rudd prepared to save Labor from itself? He has to decide today. It's been entirely obvious to the whole country that he would dearly like to be restored to the prime ministership, and the Australian voting public is with him.

But he wanted the job handed to him. He wanted the Labor caucus to realise its error, correct its mistake, and give him the job by acclamation.

But now that it's down to the wire, it seems that he will have to fight for it if he really wants it.

Labor knows it almost certainly cannot win the election under Julia Gillard. Yet the party collectively has failed its first responsibility - to deny government to the Liberal Party and to strive to win.

Julia Gillard struck Rudd down three years ago on the grounds that his polling was poor and that he had no plan for recovery.

Today, her polling is diabolical and her every plan for recovery has failed. But Gillard will not submit herself to the same criteria and take responsibility by standing aside in Rudd's favour.

Neither will her cabinet act. It met on Monday night and failed to confront her. Neither has the caucus acted. It met on Tuesday and listened politely as Gillard delivered a dismally implausible pep talk. She has stared them all down.

If Rudd wants it, he will have to challenge for it. He will have to break his promise. He will have to tear her down as she tore him down.

Even some of Gillard's praetorian guard concede that she would likely lose a ballot held now.

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  • PM Gillard, you've done a darn good job but knits time to quilt. Kevin, we're over you stringing us along, it's twine to stitch this up. You've got the thread count now, sew stop being a knitwit and stick the needle into Julia. The tread of Abbott in the Lodge is looming large and he'll change the fabric of our nation, and that's not a yarn I fancy spinning for my grandchildren.

    Date and time
    June 26, 2013, 7:44AM
    • That's rubbish,

      (We love you Kevin !!)

      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 8:35AM
    • Great joke, grandma, peppering all those knitting references in your comment. Hilarious.

      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 8:38AM
    • And look, it is true that no one listens to her anymore, but it's not because she's failed, or because she's a woman.

      It's because she just harps on, year after year, about stupid teachers-don't-know-anything gonski, Disabilitycare that will take 10 years to do anything for anyone, and nbn, which I personally think will be superseded by the time its finished anyway.

      And that's what she's campaigning on? The same tripe we've had to listen to for years already?

      No one listens because it's been rammed down our throats for too long already.

      Broken record.

      Kevin ....

      We need you to save us from Abbott. That's all there is to it. Don't let us be thrown at the mercy of Abbott. The man who stands before a sign that says "ditch the witch"?


      Kevin. If not for yourself ....

      Do it for us.

      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 8:43AM
    • Well Said!!:)

      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 8:44AM
    • It really is time for Julia Gillard to do the honourable thing and step down from the leadership.

      Back in 2010 Gillard was reported as having used poor polling figures as a reason to snatch the leadership from Kevin Rudd.
      However, the tables have turned and the polls are now heavily against her and she has never been able to achieve Rudds level of popularity with voters. 

      She has had 3 years to establish her position as PM, but under her leadership the Governments support has plummeted and they are headed for electoral annihilation.
      She should put her own personal ambition aside and do the right thing for the future benefit of the Government and many of her colleagues who will lose their seats if she stays.

      However, she has now refused to do the honourable thing so it is now up to the Labor party to hold a leadership ballot this week to settle the leadership once and for all.

      Kevin Rudd should stand as a candidate and allow his supporters in the caucus and the electorate the opportunity to vote for an alternative leader.

      Wayne Swan is also unable to communicate with the public effectively anymore, and should be replaced by Chris Bowen as Treasurer and Simon Crean as Deputy PM would help to maintain stability as the election draws closer.

      The main issue for the Government now should be EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION WITH THE ELECTORATE.

      Kevin Rudd is a much better communicator and campaigner and should be given the chance to lead the Government into the upcoming election.

      The Labor party is in government today because of his brilliant election campaign back in 2007 and government MPs are there today because of his leadership.
      Rudd still has the drive to run a strong and positive campaign.

      Get Real
      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 8:45AM
    • Gold pure gold

      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 8:50AM
    • @ Jessica - What you say is stating the obvious but the fact it hasn't happened already shows two things, (a) Rudd is a coward (as was Costello when he needed to stand up against JH) and (b) the level of hate amongst hi colleagues, who know him best, knows no bounds.
      If point (b) didn't exist JG would have been gone months ago.
      If only there was someone competent, with an agreeable personality, as an option in the wings and not KR. It would then be game on for the election.

      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 8:52AM
    • Yes, I hope Abbott gives us tax reform. Our consumption tax pre-2000 (wholesale sales tax) was broken and the Liberals fixed it with the GST.

      Now I hope they enact some of the Henry Tax Review recommendations (why did Labor commission it and enact nothing?) and fix income tax! Its a broken tax and completely unfair. And expensive to administer and for businesses to comply with.

      Fix income tax please, someone, anyone!

      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 8:55AM
    • Very clever.

      Dark Side of the Moon
      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 8:57AM

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