Rudd doesn't want top job
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has said it is time the Labor leadership debate was put into ‘‘cryogenic storage’’, declaring he has no ambition to return to the top job.
The leadership debate has reignited in recent weeks, in part due to Mr Rudd’s high public profile, fueled by several media interviews, and reports that his vote had increased in the Labor caucus.
Last week, Mr Rudd made a thinly-veiled criticism of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan over the mining tax. When asked in a television interview if the new Labor leadership team had given away too much to the miners, Mr Rudd replied: ‘‘History will be the judge of that.’’
Labor MP Kevin Rudd during Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
On Sunday, Mr Rudd told Sky News that he had no leadership ambitions and would continue to campaign for Labor ahead of the September 14 federal election.
‘‘A couple of weeks ago I said everyone should take a cold shower. Last Friday I said they should have an ice bath. It’s time this debate was put into cryogenic storage. Frankly, it ‘aint happening,’’ he said.
‘‘You know something? I’m pretty happy being where I am.’’
Asked what he would do if he was invited to return to the leadership over the next few months, Mr Rudd said: ‘‘I’m not a candidate,’’ adding that the party had expressed confidence in Ms Gillard.
In response to the suggestion that some in the Labor caucus who would like to see Mr Rudd back as Labor leader, Mr Rudd said: ‘‘not interested, go away.’’
Mr Rudd said that Labor MPs who were concerned about the government’s prospects on September 14 should ‘‘get out there’’ and support the Prime Minister, focus on Labor’s policy record and bring the focus back to the ‘‘alternative Australia’’ under Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
Mr Rudd also downplayed a News Limited report on Sunday that he was set to upstage Ms Gillard’s South Australian community cabinet meeting this week by visiting the Adelaide seat of Makin on Wednesday to support Labor MP Tony Zappia.
Mr Rudd said he would reschedule his trip.
‘‘No one’s ever raised with us that we should not have gone there,’’ he said.
‘‘I don’t want any controversy for Tony Zappia, I don’t want any controversy which would detract from the important work that the Prime Minister and the team will be doing in Adelaide that day.’’
Climate Change Minister Greg Combet told ABC TV on Sunday that Mr Rudd should ‘‘just conduct himself as a backbencher in the government [and] go around helping candidates as he is and support the government’s position.’’
Mr Combet said that it was Mr Rudd’s right to appear on TV programs.
‘‘Kevin Rudd is a Labor person, Labor loyalist and he will argue the case against Tony Abbott, I'm sure, very vigorously.’’