Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen has called for his colleagues to treat Kevin Rudd with respect, following a stinging broadside from former attorney-general Nicola Roxon, which slammed the former prime minister as a rude ''bastard'' who should quit politics.
On Thursday, the shadow treasurer said all former Labor leaders deserved respect after holding office.
''All former Labor leaders are deserving of a place in the party's history and they should be accorded the respect that the Labor Party has traditionally given to former leaders,'' Mr Bowen told ABC Radio.
''I think that applies to Julia Gillard and I think it applies to Kevin Rudd.''
Mr Bowen, who was one of Mr Rudd's highest profile supporters, refused to buy into discussions about whether he deserved to be dumped from the prime ministership in June 2010, arguing that voters were sick of talking about the past six years of Labor politics.
''The Australian people are over a discussion about what happened over the last six years and interested in a discussion about the future,'' he said.
Another Labor MP told Fairfax Media on Thursday that the sooner colleagues aired their opinions about the Rudd-Gillard years, the better.
''It is understandable that ex-ministers no longer in the parliament will want to put their side of the story. But the sooner they do that and move on, the better.''
Mr Rudd has declined to comment about Ms Roxon's speech.
His office said he was "focused on policies for Australia's future rather than on the internal politics of the Labor party".
The comments come after Ms Roxon delivered the John Button Memorial Lecture on Wednesday evening, where she argued that Labor had been justified in ousting Mr Rudd because he had been a rude and dysfunctional leader.
''Removing Kevin was an act of political bastardry for sure. But this act of political bastardry was made possible only because Kevin had been such a bastard himself to so many people already,'' she said in the speech.
But Ms Roxon also acknowledged that while Labor did the right thing by getting rid of Mr Rudd, the party did so in a clumsy way.
Ms Roxon said that Labor needed to explain Mr Rudd's faults as a prime minister to the public.
"We didn't explain the dysfunctional decision-making and lack of strategy . . . we didn't talk about his rudeness or contempt for staff or disrespect for public servants."
The former Labor frontbencher, who quit politics at last month's election to spend more time with her family, also spelt out ''hints'' for a future Labor government.
In reference to the whirlwind days of the Rudd government, Ms Roxon argued that governments should not do too many many things at once.
"The truth is, government actually can't cope with it and the public can't absorb it."
Ms Roxon, who has long been a supporter of Julia Gillard, also called for ministers to be given greater responsibility and more work, and prime ministers given less.
Keneally a 'Bambi'
In another dig at Mr Rudd's reported rudeness, Ms Roxon instructed her colleagues to be polite or – ''keep yourself nice'' – arguing there was a political cost otherwise.
The former member for Gellibrand said that Mr Rudd had referred to former NSW premier Kristina Keneally as ''Bambi'' behind closed doors.
''[This] was pretty silly when she was whip-smart and went on to run rings around us at the final COAG negotiating table,'' Ms Roxon argued.
When asked via Twitter to respond to the John Button lecture, Ms Keneally – who now heads up Basketball Australia – simply retweeted Ms Roxon's ''whip smart'' assessment.
Ms Roxon, who was health minister under the Rudd government and later Australia's first female attorney-general under Ms Gillard, also suggested Mr Rudd had a messiah complex.
"Accept that you are not always right and cannot always fix everything," she said. "Kevin had a fatal attraction to everyone else's problems."
'Rudd should go'
Ms Roxon said that in her opinion, for the good of the Labor Party Mr Rudd should quit politics because, while he remained in the Parliament, destabilising polls would be run about his popularity.
On Thursday, Mr Bowen said it was a matter for Mr Rudd about how he chose to make his contribution.
Some within Labor think it would be foolish for Mr Rudd to quit straight away – and force a byelection in Griffith, which Labor would be likely to lose to high profile LNP candidate Bill Glasson.
Ms Roxon also criticised Labor for being overly polite when Mr Rudd was ousted in 2010.
''What the rest of the world calls a polite white lie became political poison.''
The attack on Mr Rudd came on the same day as long-time Rudd supporter and former Labor MP Maxine McKew also went public with criticisms of the former PM.
Ms McKew was highly critical of Mr Rudd’s policy judgment during the 2013 campaign, and said his attacks on Tony Abbott ‘‘often came across as narky".
She also questioned his sharp retort to a pastor who asked the former prime minister about his support for gay marriage on the ABC's Q&A program, saying he displayed "rudeness" and left the pastor feeling "humiliated".
Earlier this week, new Labor leader Bill Shorten argued that a line had been drawn under leadership turmoil as he presented his new leadership team and announced his frontbench in Canberra.