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Federal Politics

Politics wrap: 21 March, 2013

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Key moments in the leadership crisis

A timeline of the day's events including the key players involved in the Labor leadership spill.

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Is everyone still standing? Let's do a wrap of the day before I sign off.

1. Prime Minister Julia Gillard started and ended the day as prime minister;

2. she did this even though the now former minister Simon Crean called for a leadership ballot;

3. Kevin Rudd did not run which means caucus did not actually vote on the leadership because there were no challengers to Ms Gillard as leader and Wayne Swan as deputy;

4. key Rudd supporters have either resigned or are considering their positions;

5. Mr Crean struggled to explain why he did what he did and then called for unity;

6. the media reform laws were dumped;

7. a very moving ceremony to offer an apology to victims of forced adoptions was made and both Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott gave powerful speeches.

In my mind the apology showed the best of politics. I'll leave it up to you to pass judgment on the rest of it.

Thanks to everyone for your contributions and for staying with us throughout the day.

Snaps to Andrew Meares and Alex Ellinghausen - they make The Pulse.

See you in the morning.

And, to round things out, here is the transcript of Mr Abbott's remarks to the media.

 

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott makes a statement following the ALP leadership ballot

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott makes a statement following the ALP leadership ballot Photo: Andrew Meares

Mr Crean says "we have a crew that's capable of doing it properly".

 

Labor MP Simon Crean sits on the backbench during Question Time

Labor MP Simon Crean sits on the backbench during Question Time Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Mr Crean says he doesn't believe the timing was not to Mr Rudd's liking.

"His side knew exactly what was involved."

Mr Crean says it's "not necessarily" true that Labor is headed for defeat at the election.

When asked if the events of today put the leadership fight to bed, Mr Crean says "It must".

Labor MP Simon Crean speaks to the media after doing a television interview in the press gallery

Labor MP Simon Crean speaks to the media after doing a television interview in the press gallery Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Mr Crean: "That's why the decision that I took today, even though it didn't achieve the result that I would have argued should have been achieved, I did in the interests of the Labor Party."

"I don't have any regrets about the path that I took."

"I took it out of no personal gain or no personal animosity to Julia."

 

Mr Crean: "In my view there is no way he can countence or argue that his position can be taken seriously."

"The PM called it on, called it on because I asked her it."

 

Simon Crean is now speaking to ABC television.

"I'm surprised that Kevin Rudd didn't stand. I can't understand why all of this agitation would be on, to bring it to a head, then for the pretender not to stump on."

"He should have run, there's no question about that."

"That would have been an important cleansing for the party."

 

A spokesman for the PM has issued a statement acknowledging Mr Marles' resignation.

"The Prime Minister thanked Mr Marles for his contribution and service and acknowledges his behaviour in offering his resignation is honourable."

 

Mr Marles said "the decision about the leadership has been conclusively determined".

"The caucus has very clearly spoken. It really is now time to be standing right behind Julia Gillard to make sure we get re elected."

Mr Marles says he does not feel he was hung out to dry by Mr Rudd.

Resigning from his parliamentary secretaryship was "the appropriate thing to do".

"The idea of a Rudd prime ministership is now over and I do think that this needed to be resolved so in that sense I think the party, after a difficult day, is in a better position at the end of the day than it was at the beginning."

Richard Marles speaks to the media after resigning as a parliamentary secretary

Richard Marles speaks to the media after resigning as a parliamentary secretary Photo: Andrew Meares

Rudd supporter Richard Marles has resigned his parliamentary secretaryship.

Mr Marles was the parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs and Pacific Island affairs.

Wondering what all of this means?

Lenore Taylor has filed this excellent analysis piece which says it far more clearly than I could.

 

This is the text of Ms Gillard's statement.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasuruer Wayne Swan made short statements after the meeting.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasuruer Wayne Swan made short statements after the meeting. Photo: Andrew Meares

Here is a transcript of the comments Mr Rudd made to reporters shortly before the 4.30pm meeting.

The Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, says there are a "range of people who need to reconsider what they do."

Mr Smith it is right that Mr Fitzgibbon should reconsider his position and that it is fair he takes time to do that.

"The time has come for this matter to be at an end."

Mr Smith says "not one day" should be lost between now and the election "as a result of these previous issues".

 

Senator Milne is making a fair point - that the people who gathered today for the apology to the victims of forced adoptions deserve another apology from the Labor Party for allowing the leadership issue to overshadow their day.

It is a great shame that the occasion, which was so moving, is not the focus of the day.

If you'd like to look at some of the pictures and read the coverage of the event please return to the posts that begin shortly before 11am.

Greens leader Christine Milne is now urging people to get behind the Greens as a party of stability.

"We're not going to put the one trick pony at the middle of the circus and that's Tony Abbott."

The deputy leader of the Opposition, Julie Bishop, and the leader, Tony Abbott, leave their press conference.

Julie Bishop and Tony Abbott leave their press conference following the Labor Party leadership meeting.

Julie Bishop and Tony Abbott leave their press conference following the Labor Party leadership meeting. Photo: Andrew Meares

The PM.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a statement following the leadership ballot

Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a statement following the leadership ballot Photo: Andrew Meares

The PM following her statement.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a statement following the ballot

Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a statement following the ballot Photo: Andrew Meares

The view from the top.

Labor MP Chris Hayes announces the ballot result to the media

Labor MP Chris Hayes announces the ballot result to the media Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

I must interrupt proceedings to congratulate Andrew Meares and Alex Ellinghausen for their amazing work today.

I'm going to publish a few of their pictures that time has prevented me from bringing you sooner.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan address the media following the announcement she will remain in the top job.. Click for more photos

Gillard survives dramatic day in Canberra

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan address the media following the announcement she will remain in the top job.. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

  • Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan address the media following the announcement she will remain in the top job..
  • Opposition Leader Tony Abbott makes a statement following the ALP leadership ballo.
  • Chief Government Whip Joel Fitzgibbon speaks to media follwoing the ballot.
  • Prime Minister Julia Gillard emerges after the leadership ballot.
  • Kevin Rudd emerges from the leadership ballot.
  • Labor MP Chris Hayes announces the result of the ballot.
  • Julia Gillard on her way to the ballot.
  • Labor MP Rob Mitchellon his way to the leadership ballot.
  • Kevin Rudd arrives for the leadership ballot.
  • Simon Crean and Warren Snowdon arrive for the  leadership ballot.
  • Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaks during a motion of no confidence at Parliament House.

Tony Abbott: "It's absolutely obvious that we have seen a stand-off not a resolution."

And that's it for Mr Abbott's press conference.

Mr Abbott is asked if the independents should withdraw their support from the Prime Minister.

Mr Abbott says it's "interesting" to note the motion for a suspension was won "only on a technicality."

"Minority government is an experiment that has failed."

Mr Abbott says the only way the matter can be resolved is to have an election.

"We cannot wait until September 14."

Tony Abbott is going to "talk directly to the Australian people" first.

"It doesn't have to be as bad as this."

"We are currently let down by a bad government getting worse but that will change."

 

Tony Abbott will also be holding a press conference. It will take place at 5.30pm.

Wayne Swan: "I think it's fair to say there was very strong support for the prime minister in the party room today."

"I think today's result does end these matters once and for all."

"We need to rededicate ourselves to a program that will lift our country up."

"For my part I've got a budget to prepare."

"From our perspective it's back to work."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan speak to the media

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan speak to the media Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The PM: "I"m grateful to my colleagues for their continuing support of me."

"I accept their continued support with a sense of deep humility and resolve."

"I only ever sought office in the interests of the nation."

"It is in that spirit that I continue to govern."

"The whole business is at an end."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaks to the media

Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaks to the media Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The PM has arrived to make her statement.

Rudd supporter John Murphy told Fairfax Media reporter Jonathan Swan: "Now everyone must give Julia 100 per cent loyalty."

"It was an heroic performance by Simon to bring the instability to a head. I think his decision today was the hardest decision he has ever made. I think Simon deserves enormous credit to bring this to a head in the interests of the party."

Fairfax Media reporter Judith Ireland ran into National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce after the meeting who quipped: "They had a vote for chaos and it was unanimous."

Quite.

The PM will hold a press conference at 5.15pm.

The alert put out by her office says Ms Gillard will make a statement only and take no questions.

The PM and other MPs leave the meeting.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard emerges from caucus meeting

Prime Minister Julia Gillard emerges from caucus meeting Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Mr Fitzgibbon: "I'm driven only by the best interests of the party."

Kevin Rudd emerges from the leadership ballot

Kevin Rudd emerges from the leadership ballot Photo: Andrew Meares

Mr Fitzgibbon: "I think the government can win with Julia Gillard ... She does have some very, very good policies and a positive agenda."

Mr Fitzgibbon: "I'm doing what I'm doing now in the hope that it is over."

Chief Government Whip Joel Fitzgibbon speaks to media

Chief Government Whip Joel Fitzgibbon speaks to media Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Mr Fitzgibbon: "Kevin Rudd always maintained he wouldn't challenge ... We weren't able [to persuade him to run]."

Mr Fitzgibbon calls for "a time of healing".

 

Joel Fitzgibbon, chief government whip and Rudd supporter, has just left and was asked how it went: "Interesting."

He's now talking to the media.

"Caucus has made his decision today. It's made a decision to stay on path. Over the next six weeks I'll consider whether it's in the best interests of the party for me to stay on as chief government whip."

"I'll put that decision on notice now."

Mr Fitzgibbon has had no conversations with the PM.

So the ballot took less than 15 minutes.

Mr Hayes says the mood of the room was "sombre".

"This is something most people are happy has been put beyond doubt."

So to recap there was no actual vote because there were no opposing candidates.

We start the day, indeed the week, as it began - with Julia Gillard as Prime Minister.

The PM and her supporters are now leaving the meeting.

A caucus spokesman, Chris Hayes, confirms that nominations were called for the position of leader and deputy leader.

Only one person nominated for each position - Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan respectively.

Therefore they were elected unopposed.

Mr Hayes confirms Mr Rudd was in the room.

Mr Hayes says Mr Crean had begun to speak but he thought it "prudent" to leave and tell people what had happened.

Since the meeting has now begun there will be a bit of a vaccum for a while so I'm going to put up the full statements of Mr Rudd and Mr Albanese.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard arrives for the caucus meeting

Prime Minister Julia Gillard arrives for the caucus meeting Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Mr Rudd was accompanied by Laura Smyth (Victorian seat of LaTrobe), Janelle Saffin (NSW seat of Page), Maria Vamvakinou (Victorian seat of Calwell) and others.

Labor MP Kevin Rudd speaks to media

Labor MP Kevin Rudd speaks to media Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

A spokesman for the Minister for Foriegn Affairs, Bob Carr, says: "Minister Carr will not be able to attend the caucus meeting today as he is overseas. I have nothing else to add."

The PM is arriving for the caucus meeting accompanied by Wayne Swan, Yvette D'Ath, Kate Ellis, Stephen Conroy, Nicola Roxon, Bill Shorten, Craig Emerson, Brendan O'Connor, David Feeney and a large group of supporters.

The PM smiled and said "hi" to reporters.

Anthony Albanese: "Kevin Rudd has made the right decision. He has said he would only be a candidate for the Labor Party leadership not through a divisive ballot in which he challenged the Prime Minister but only in the circumstances whereby it was the overwhelming view of the party."

"I will never support a spill motion against a sitting Prime Minister."

"Julia Gillard will remain the Prime Minister."

"I will be supporting Wayne Swan [for the deputy leader's position]."

Mr Albanese says he was not aware of Mr Crean's plans before he announced them.

I repeat - Kevin Rudd is not running.

Labor MP Kevin Rudd speaks to media

Labor MP Kevin Rudd speaks to media Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Mr Rudd: "When I said I would not challenge for the Labor leadership I believed in honouring my word."

He repeats his statement that he would only stand if the position was vacant.

"Therefore in the absence of anything Simon Crean had to say this morning I will be adhering to my statement.

"This is difficult day ... but I take my word seriously.

"I am not prepared to dishonour the word I gave solemnly.

"I suggest to all and sundry across the party that we ensure Tony Abbott does not walk into the Lodge."

Kevin Rudd about to make a statement.

The Minister for Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten, has just walked into the PM's office.

The Minister for Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, heads for Mr Rudd's office.

There is a group of about 20 MPs inside Mr Rudd's office urging him to run.

They include people already know to support Mr Rudd - Sydney MP Ed Husic, Victorian MP Richard Marles and South Australian MP Tony Zappia.

It's less than an hour to go until the ballot.

There are various opinions flying around as to who has more votes but since no one knows for sure let's leave that to one side.

What needs to happen in this ballot (presuming Mr Rudd does run)?

The history of leadership ballots shows that the challenger can win by a slim margin and then enjoy the support of their party room.

For example, Tony Abbott won by one vote. Mark Latham also won by a slim margin (he wasn't undone by anyone other than himself).

However incumbents needs to win decisively to make the leadership rumblings stop.

Therefore, Kevin Rudd could win by a slim majority and all the leadership kerfuffle would end.

But if Julia Gillard wins by a slim majority then this would not be over.

And the voting by tweet begins:

 

Labor warhorse and the national president of the Australian Workers Union, Bill Ludwig, is a strong supporter of Ms Gillard but has declined to comment on the ballot or on Mr Crean's shift to Mr Rudd.

"Haven't got a view," Mr Ludwig told The Age's Ben Schneiders.

"You blokes (the media) have got more views than a circus."

There is still silence from Kevin Rudd.

 

Kevin Rudd arrives for Question Time

Kevin Rudd arrives for Question Time Photo: Andrew Meares

Independent Bob Katter says he would consider switching sides from the Opposition to Labor if Kevin Rudd was appointed leader.
Mr Katter's support of Mr Rudd would depend on whether the former prime minister negotiated favourably on the 20 point plan that he presented to both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott during the negotiations to form government after the 2010 election.
Issues important to Mr Katter include the Woolworths and Coles supermarket duopoly and "mandatory ethanol in our petrol tanks".
Mr Katter said Mr Abbott's credibility had been "damaged" over his views on ethanol, but he was close to Joe Hockey and was not yet leaning to either side.
"I couldn't care whether Billy Billabong is Prime Minister of Australia," Mr Katter said.
"My initial reaction is that I would go back to my 20 points."

Mr Crean's office has confirmed he was sacked from his ministerial responsibilities.

So what did that all mean?

It means that independents who previously could have been relied on to protect Ms Gillard from the Opposition's procedural attacks did not do so this time. In other words, they have lost confidence in her prime ministership.

However, not all of them.

And Bob Katter makes a point of absenting himself from what he calls "political votes".

If there had been an absolute majority in favour of Mr Abbott's motion then he would have been able to move a further motion of no confidence (which, you may recall, is what he tried to do at the start of Question Time).

Had that been successful it would have meant Parliament had no confidence in the Prime Minister. That would have almost certainly sent us to an election.

But that didn't happen. Just a leadership ballot.

 

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott during Question Time

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott during Question Time Photo: Andrew Meares

Windsor, Wilkie and Oakeshott voted with the Opposition.

Slipper and Thomson voted with the Government.

Bob Katter was not present.

PS. An absolute majority is 50 per cent plus one vote which is 76 votes.

It does not matter if all MPs are present or not. It is an absolute majority of eligible MPs.

The motion votes - 73 yes, 71 no.

The motion required an absolute majority so it is unsuccessful.

The PM wins but only because an absolute majority was required.

The PM: "They obviously don't want Question Time so I ask further questions be placed on the notice board."

Question Time is over.

If the motion is successful then that means the leader of the Opposition is able to bring on his motion of no confidence.

If the no confidence motion is successful we are in tricky waters.

We are now hearing that enough independents may side with the Opposition for it to be successful.

 

Team Rudd.

 

Labor MP Kevin Rudd during Question Time

Labor MP Kevin Rudd during Question Time Photo: spruddcrean21

A division is now being called on the motion to suspend standing orders. It is unlikely the cross bench will give the Opposition enough support for it to be successful.

PM: "That is our mission, that is our creed, that is what Labor governments do."

"It is what is has done under my prime ministership and it is what it will continue to do under my prime ministership from this day forward."

"We will fight and fight the leader of the opposition and his campaign."

"When the election is held in September we will prevail because the choice will be so clear."

The PM: "Here we are as a nation strong, resilient, emerging from the global financial crisis well."

"It is a future of opportunity that is not assured."

"There is nothing to guarantee we will be a high skill high wage economy."

 

The PM: "Let me assure the leader of the Opposition we are not done yet."

"We have more to do...It is this government that has outlined the roadmap to that future."

The PM is giving a strong defence of her policies to defend workers' rights, and in particular women.

She mentions not only childcare workers, but aged workers, better protection for women who are leaving violent relationships, paid parental leave and increasing the tax free threshold for low paid workers (who are more likely to be women).

The PM is talking about the government's record on the economy and its performance during and after the global financial crisis.

"I am proud that this week we have extended more funding to women who work in childcare centres. Why shouldn't women who work in childcare centres with children, our most precious resource, have better pay and conditions? Why can't the leader of the opposition be a big enough man to support that?"

The PM is standing to respond to the motion.

"[Mr Abbott] filled the space with the only thing he knows how to do and that is negativity, bitterness and the politics of personal assault."

"This is a government that has got on with the job and has governed well."

 

Independent MPs Andrew Wilkie Craig Thomson Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor talk during Question Time

Independent MPs Andrew Wilkie Craig Thomson Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor talk during Question Time Photo: Andrew Meares

Ms Bishop says divisions in the Labor Party will continue regardless of the ballot at 4.30pm: "It is deep, it is personal it is vicious and it will not go away."

 

The deputy Opposition leader, Julie Bishop, is now seconding the motion.

"The Australian people deserve so much better than this prime minister. The Australian people deserve so much better than this government."

"This is all to the cost of the Australian people, to the confidence of the Australian people."

Leader of the House Anthony Albanese in discussion with Prime Minister Julia Gillard during Question Time

Leader of the House Anthony Albanese in discussion with Prime Minister Julia Gillard during Question Time Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Mr Abbott: "This is a betrayal of Labor values because decent Labor people and a decent Labor government would never put themselves ahead of good government."

"It was once said there was a light on the hill working for the betterment of mankind....That once great political party is reduced to being a life support system for just one person, the current prime minister. I say to the prime minister - for your party's good you should go. For our country's good you should go. You should go."

 

Mr Abbott: "There's the deception, the chronic congenital deception we get from this prime minister and this government."

And this:

 

From the ALP:

 

Mr Rudd listens to Mr Abbott.

 

Kevin Rudd in Question Time

Kevin Rudd in Question Time Photo: Andrew Meares

"A government that if the honest truth were to be known, most members opposite would feel embarassed about," Mr Abbott says.

 

Simon Crean and chief government whip Joel Fitzgibbon.

 

Sacked arts minister Simon Crean and Chief Government Whip Joel Fitzgibbon arrive for question time at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday 21 March 2013. Photo: Andrew Meares

Sacked arts minister Simon Crean and Chief Government Whip Joel Fitzgibbon arrive for question time at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday 21 March 2013. Photo: Andrew Meares Photo: Andrew Meares

"A house divided cannot stand," Mr Abbott says.

"A house divided itself cannot stand...This cannot go on. The people of Australia deserve and strong and stable government and what is crystal clear is that cannot continue under this prime minister."

Mr Abbott seeks to leave a motion of no confidence in the PM.

The manager of governnment business, Anthony Albanese, says "No, this is Question Time."

Mr Abbott is now moving to suspend standing orders on the basis there is no confidence in the PM.

 

Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Question Time

Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Question Time Photo: Andrew Meares

Mr Abbott is hammering the PM with now his second question about how the Australian people can be expected to have confidence in her when the Minister for Regional Development has lost it.

The PM says he might want to look at what some of his colleagues have said about him. Mr Turnbull perhaps, she suggests.

 

Prime Minister Julia Gillard arrives for Question Time

Prime Minister Julia Gillard arrives for Question Time Photo: Photo by Alex Ellinghausen

The PM has also announced that the Minister for Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, will answer questions in the place of the Minister for Regional Development, Simon Crean.

This means Mr Crean has effectively gone to the backbench.

 

 

Prime Minister Julia Gillard arrives for question time at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday 21 March 2013. Photo: Andrew Meares

Prime Minister Julia Gillard arrives for question time at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday 21 March 2013. Photo: Andrew Meares Photo: Andrew Meares

The PM has announced the leadership ballot will be on at 4.30pm.

Security has removed the media from the corridor outside the PM's office.

The PM has left for QT with Wayne Swan next to her and Greg Combet, Tanya Plibersek, Craig Emerson and Jenny Macklin with her.

All are smiling.

The Minister for Trade, Craig Emerson, has also gone into the PM's office. He is one of her staunchest backers.

The bells are ringing for Question Time which means there are five minutes to go.

The Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, has just gone into the PM's office. The government's manager of business, Anthony Albanese, is also inside.

 

Here is Mr Crean's full statement to the media (it does not include the questions and answers).

Labor frontbencher Simon Crean speaks to media at press conference

Labor frontbencher Simon Crean speaks to media at press conference Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Here's the head of NSW Labor:

 

So basically we have a leadership spill that isn't on - but should be - with a leadership contender who should declare - but hasn't - with a deputy who isn't endorsed by the contender.

Confused? Me too.

The body language in Question Time will be fascinating.

Mr Crean has finished his press conference saying he will be in Question Time - just half an hour away.

Mr Crean: "Labor has not lost its way."

Mr Crean: "There should be no retribution."

"It's a pretty proud vessel, I want it steering on course."

"The sooner we start acting like a team, which I know we can, the better."

Mr Crean says the Labor Party can win the election "if it gets back on message" and "if it regains that mantle of leadership that is brand Labor".

Mr Crean: "There's only one leader that can call the spill. If the PM is not inclined, well I think she's not going to do that. I urge the caucus to act in accordance with the rules."

Mr Crean is referring to the ability of caucus to ask for a meeting for a ballot if one third of members sign a petition.

Mr Crean: "There's no point continuing on in a hung Parliament under these circumstances."

He says it's better trying to deal with circumstances they can control rather than those they cannot.

Mr Crean says that when he was ousted as Labor leader he warned against the "revolving door of leadership" and those warnings have come to pass.

Mr Crean says people have urged him to run as leader and he's "resisted".

 

Mr Crean: "We've got to look at the duality of causes and address both of them."

Mr Crean says that cannot be done if only the "prism of leadership" is confronted.

Mr Crean says this is not a matter of him losing confidence in the PM but a matter of the "white noise".

"We should be able to sort it out but we've shown no capacity to do this in the past three months."

"Some will say this is just rewarding the destabilisers....I do not believe that the position we find ourselves in in the polls for example, is just due to destabilising. It's due to a number of decisions which I won't go into."

Mr Crean says there is no official ticket between himself and Mr Rudd.

"I believe he has other views on who that person should be."

 

Labor frontbencher Simon Crean announces he has asked Julia Gillard for a spill of the party leadership.

Labor frontbencher Simon Crean announces he has asked Julia Gillard for a spill of the party leadership. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Mr Crean: "It's not as if we have to create a brand Labor. It exists but we must reinvigorate it."

Mr Crean: "If you look at the criticism of his government it was that it was too concentrated. I want it to be more inclusive."

Mr Crean says it was he who was the last Labor leader to effectively reform the party (he's referring to his time as Labor leader when he downsized the unions' influence on the party through their representation at national conference).

Mr Crean: "It was important to me that he was going to be a changed Kevin. Or, if you like, a more disciplined asset."

Mr Crean says this is why he's putting his name forward as deputy, to hold Mr Rudd to his word that he is a changed man.

Mr Crean says he has not spoken to Mr Rudd in the past 48 hours. He has had discussions in recent weeks, first on policy.

Mr Crean is saying he'll run as deputy to Mr Rudd but would not seek the position of treasurer.

Mr Crean: "I will not step aside pending the outcome of the ballot. If she [the PM] were to win of course I would step aside."

Mr Crean is asked if Mr Rudd has the numbers: "I wouldn't be doing this if I did not believe there was the mood and the need for change within the party."

Mr Crean: "I'm urging Mr Rudd to put his name forward....I do not believe simply changing from Ms Gillard to Mr Rudd will solve anything. The internals must stop. We must be an inclusive party."

Simon Crean says he'll support Kevin Rudd in any leadership ballot.

Simon Crean says he'll support Kevin Rudd in any leadership ballot. Photo: Andrew Meares

Mr Crean met with the PM last night and again today. He promised not to say anything until he had spoken to her again which was why he did not say anything at this morning's press conference.

The PM said she would not call a spill.

"I urge her to reconsider," Mr Crean says.

 

Mr Crean: "I look forward to caucus making a mature decision....I will be supporting Kevin Rudd. He has got no option but to run. I want no more games."

Mr Crean: "People have got to believe that we have got conviction...What we have to do is to take people with us. That means being prepared to argue the case. I know this - people do not want an Abbott led government."

Mr Crean: "I'm doing this in the interests of the Labor Party and, in turn, the nation."

(The PM is in the House of Representatives listening to the apology.)

Mr Crean: "We need to settle this and move forward. As for the position of positions being declared open - Kevin Rudd has no choice but to stand for the leadership. He can no longer say he will only be drafted. That's why I'm putting myself forward as part of the leadership group."

Mr Crean: "If the PM  does not agree to it, which I suspect she won't, I am calling on members of caucus to form a petition."

"This is not personal. This is about the party, its future and the future of the country. I believe we can win the next election."

Mr Crean: "I have talked to the prime minister yesterday and today....I am asking her to call a spill for all the leadership positions in the party."

Mr Crean: "IT seems to me the party, through the government, is in a stalemate...Something needs to be done to break the dead lock."

And we're now on standby for another press conference with the Minister for Regional Development, Simon Crean.

It's due to start at 1pm.

 

In breaking news the government has now pulled its media reform package having been unable to secure enough support.

 

Here is a link to the full text of the apology that will be moved in Parliament later today.

I apologise that my reporting of Mr Abbott's speech was not quite as fulsome as it was for Ms Gillard. I had a transcript of Ms Gillard's speech but none for Mr Abbott.

 

Mr Abbott then went on to say: "We honour the birth parents, including the fathers, who have always loved their children."

Mr Abbott was then heckled by some people in the audience who seemed to be upset when he said he also paid tribute to adoptive parents who "tried to do the right thing".

He then apologised saying "the last thing" he wanted to do was cause further pain.

"People have a right to make choices and they deserve our love and respect whatever choices they make."

This seemed to prompt another round of heckling.

Mr Abbott praised Ms Gillard's "eloquent and heartfelt statement" and endorsed it.

Mr Abbott: "We are all living with that legacy....I can't imagine an ache greater than your fear that mum didn't want me even though it wasn't true."

"Every mother has the right to raise her child. We know it now and we should have known it then."

"It should never have been presumed that some mothers were not capable of raising their childre."

"We were hard hearted and we were judgmental."

"Instead of justice there was wrongdoing."

"Today we accept responsibility for the pain, the suffering and grief reverberating through tens of thousands of Australian families."

Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, is now speaking of his own experiences with adoption and is paying tribute to Kathy Donnelly.

Ms Donnelly always believed Mr Abbott was the father of her son, Daniel, who was given up for adoption.

It was later confirmed that Mr Abbott was not the father.

"In the 1970s a person who was close to me had a baby who was adopted," Mr Abbott said.

Mr Abbott said he stood there with "a pang of guilt".

"Men in their lives who failed to live up to their responsibilities," Mr Abbott said.

"I never knew a more courageous and admirable person," Mr Abbott says of Ms Donnelly.

Union boss Paul Howes is in the audience. He spoke last year of the trauma he felt after he was adopted.

Paul Howes and Olivia Wirth at the National Apology for Forced Adoption in the Great Hall at Parliament House

Paul Howes and Olivia Wirth at the National Apology for Forced Adoption in the Great Hall at Parliament House Photo: Andrew Meares

Ms Gillard is announcing $5 million to improve specialist support and records to help people trace their families and a further $1.5 million for the National Archives to record people's experiences in an exhibition.

She is paying tribute to people who came forward and told their stories to the Senate committee and to Greens Senator Rachel Siewert who was the chair.

"Saying 'sorry' is only ever complete when those who are wronged accept it," Ms Gillard says.

"Through your courage and grace, this time of neglect is over, and the work of healing can begin."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered the National Apology for Forced Adoption

Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered the National Apology for Forced Adoption Photo: Andrew Meares

Ms Gillard: "My fellow Australians, no collection of words alone can undo all this damage."

"Or make whole the lives and families fractured by forced adoption. Or give back childhoods that were robbed of joy and laughter. Or make amends for the birthdays and Christmases and Mother's or Father's Days that only brought a fresh wave of grief and loss."

"But by saying sorry we can correct the historical wrong. That you loved your children and you always will."

"And to the children or forced adoption we can say that you deserved so much better. You deserved the chance to know and love your mother and father."

"We can promise you all that no generation of Australians will suffer the same pain and trauma you did."

 

Ms Gillard: "We are a great nation. But we must also be a good nation. Therefore we must face the negative features of our past without hesitation or reserve."

"This story had its beginnings in a wrongful belief that women could be separated from their babies and it would all be for the best."

"Instead these churches and charities, families, medial staff and bureaucrats struck at the most primal and sacred bond there is - the bond between a mother and baby."

"Too often they did not see their baby's face. They couldn't soothe his first cries. Never felt her warmth or smelt her skin. They could not give their own baby a name."

Members of the audience listen to the Prime Minister Julia Gillard deliver the apology

Members of the audience listen to the Prime Minister Julia Gillard deliver the apology Photo: Andrew Meares

Ms Gillard: "We resolve, as a nation, to do all in our power to make sure these practices are never repeated."

"In facing future challenges, we will remember the lessons of family separation."

"Our focus will be on protecting the fundamental rights of children and on the importance of the child's right to know and be cared for by his or her parents."

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, says the apology will later be moved in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

"To you, the mothers who were betrayed by a system that gave you no voice...we apologise....We know you have suffered enduring effects."

"We apologise to the sons and daugh who grew up not knowing you were wanted and loved."

"We acknowledge that the consequences of forced adoption practices continue to resonate though many many lives."

"Some families will be lost to one another forever."

"In particular we remember those victims who took their own lives."

Here is a link to the Senate committee report into forced adoptions that was the precursor to today's apology. It makes for harrowing and emotional reading.

The PM and Mr Abbott have both arrived for the apology.

There will be a welcome to country before they both speak.

Welcome to country ceremony at the National Apology for Forced Adoptions

Welcome to country ceremony at the National Apology for Forced Adoptions Photo: Andrew Meares

For people who would like to watch the service ABC News 24 and Sky News are both showing the apology to the victims of forced adoptions.

Senator Rachel Siewert hugs Sue Macdonald at the national apology for forced adoption in the Great Hall at Parliament House

Senator Rachel Siewert hugs Sue Macdonald at the national apology for forced adoption in the Great Hall at Parliament House Photo: Andrew Meares

The official occasion starts at 11am.

 

Video might have killed the radio star but not, it seems, the government's media reforms.

The clock is ticking down and the Minister for Communications, Stephen Conroy, hasn't given up.

"Discussions are still going," Senator Conroy says.

"[But] if it can't be agreed to be the end of the week we will move on."

Lenore Taylor has this story on where things stand.

Communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy launched the Museum Robot project at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra

Communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy launched the Museum Robot project at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra Photo: Andrew Meares

On the matter of governing - the National Disability Insurance Scheme has passed both houses of parliament.

 

Possibly it would have been easier not to talk about it at all, as was the tactic of the Minister for Climate Change, Greg Combet, a few minutes ago.

Mr Combet said there was nothing to be gained from his adding his two penneth worth.

A reporter said that leadership seems to be the elephant in the room.

Mr Combet, in his typical wry fashion, replied: "It seems to be running around a bit more broadly than that."

The Minister for Regional Development, Simon Crean, has gotten quite het up while trying to call on the Labor Party to unify, calling on destablisers to stop but stopping short of pledging his absolute loyalty to the PM.

Mr Crean scotched rumours that he was going to run on a leadership ticket with Kevin Rudd.

"We have to get the people who are destablising to stop and focus on the future," Mr Crean says.

"I think you stop the stalemate by getting people to pull back and understand it's in our interests to act in a more unified way....If Kevin Rudd had the numbers he would have challenged."

It seems like Mr Crean was well intentioned, trying to get people to fall in behind the leader and stop gossiping. But he came a bit unstuck when reporters started asking him how he would vote in a ballot.

Mr Crean refused to say on the - reasonable - grounds it was a hypothetical question. The problem with that strategy is that the story then becomes "Crean won't say he'll back Gillard".

 

Arts Minister Simon Crean launches the Regional Arts Fund National Strategic Projects at Parliament House

Arts Minister Simon Crean launches the Regional Arts Fund National Strategic Projects at Parliament House Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Just a quick run down on how the national apology for forced adoptions is going to work. The doors to the Great Hall of Parliament House will open at 10.30am allowing spectators time to find their seats.

The PM and the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, will arrive at 11am and will both deliver addresses shortly thereafter.

It's going to be a sombre and moving occasion.

A Senate inquiry found as many as 250,000 babies were forcibly taken from their mothers - who were largely young and unmarried - from the 1950s until the 1970s.

William Hammersley has travelled from Melbourne for the occasion. His sign is indicative of the pain felt by people who were never given the chance to know their mothers.

"I hated my mother for 60 years," it says. "We have never met. She passed away before we could. I know the truth now Mum."

 

William Hammersley, who was forcefully taken from his mother at birth in 1952, came from Melbourne for the National Apology for Forced Adoption

William Hammersley, who was forcefully taken from his mother at birth in 1952, came from Melbourne for the National Apology for Forced Adoption Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Chief government whip and Rudd man Joel Fitzgibbon caused a bit of a stir when he swept through the press gallery last night.

His decision to go public earlier in the day (see the 11.31 post yesterday) saying there was no point denying MPs were discussing leadership angered supporters of the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

Graham Perrett - who holds the government's sixth most marginal seat - this morning called on Mr Fitzgibbon to put up or shut up: "They [agitators for change] need to either resign or re-sign.....If we're not one team, forget about."

Here is chief political correspondent Mark Kenny's take on where things stand and The Age's political editor Michael Gordon analysis of the lie of the land.

Chief Government Whip Joel Fitzgibbon exits the Press Gallery

Chief Government Whip Joel Fitzgibbon exits the Press Gallery Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Before I get underway with the news of the day I'd like to share this picture with you.

It was taken last night at a party to celebrate the 25th anniversary of gentleman reporter Paul Bongiorno's arrival in the press gallery. You would be familiar with his work for Channel 10.

Many happy returns Bonge! You even managed to achieve some bipartisan bonhomie.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott greets Treasurer Wayne Swan

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott greets Treasurer Wayne Swan Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Today is Harmony Day.

It is also the day on which Parliament will offer a formal apology to the people who were victims of forced adoptions.

Please join us for our live coverage of federal politics.

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