Kevin Rudd regains the Prime Ministership
Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has regained leadership of the Australian Labor Party – and therefore the Prime Ministership – from incumbent Julia Gillard who has served as PM for just over three years and struggled politically.
There had been long-standing speculation that Mr. Rudd would again make an attempt to run for the party leadership. In February 2012, Mr. Rudd challenged Ms. Gillard and lost 71 votes to 31. In March this year, in response to a call from Simon Crean, Ms. Gillard called a spill, but she was the only one to contest for the leadership. Rudd refused to participate in that challenge and the whole episode became a farce.
This time, he has challenged and won. The result was 57 votes to Mr. Rudd and 45 votes to Ms. Gillard.
There’s no doubt that Ms. Gillard was on the nose with the electorate and had been since her unexpected and ‘unforgivable‘ night-time coup against Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2010. At the time, she claimed that a good government “had lost its way” before watering down a mining tax to the point where it raised no revenue, promised not to introduce a Carbon Tax when it was Rudd’s abandonment of that policy that got him into trouble and consequently almost lost the 2010 election. She then introduced a Carbon Tax.
Rudd claimed that many Australians had urged him to challenge Julia Gillard, saying that they were “fearful” of opposition leader Tony Abbott wining government in a Liberal/National coalition because Gillard was ineffective against him. Mr. Rudd also believed that the ALP was about to be obliterated at the upcoming election and something had to be done.
Whether Kevin Rudd can “save the furniture” remains to be seen. Many experts believe that he cannot possibly win the 2013 election although I believe that he represents Labor’s best chance. There is absolutely no doubt that Rudd has a big task ahead of him, especially given his legacy amongst his colleagues.
The Prime Minister also has a significant problem with his ministry. The cabinet has now suffered a second purge following the resignation of more ministers who claim that they can’t work under Mr. Rudd:
- Greg Combet – Climate Change (Charlton, NSW)
- Stephen Conroy – Broadband & Communications (Senator for Victoria)
- Craig Emerson – Trade (Rankin, Qld.)
- Peter Garrett – School Education (Kingsford Smith, NSW)
- Joe Ludwig – Agriculture (Senator for Queensland)
- Wayne Swan – Treasurer & Deputy PM (Lilley, Qld.)
The following two ministers resigned, but their resignations were rejected by Mr. Rudd:
- Tony Bourke – Environment (Watson, NSW)
- Gary Gray – Resources and Energy (Brand, WA)
Just last March, eight ministers resigned following the failure of Mr. Rudd to secure the party leadership, claiming that they couldn’t work under Ms. Gillard. This latest series of resignations highlights the deep division within the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. It seems likely that Mr. Rudd will reinstate some of those ministers who resigned in March.
Despite all of these challenges, Mr. Rudd has genuine popularity amongst a population that had stopped listening to Julia Gillard.
The question is: Will the electorate flock back to Rudd now that he has been returned to a Prime Ministership that was ‘robbed’ from him, or will the electorate turn further away from a Labor Party that has been disunited and dysfunctional for years? Time will tell.
This coming election will be hard-fought.
Both Mr. Rudd and Mr. Abbott have everything to lose, if not for different reasons.