Following weeks of speculation about his aspirations to again lead the Labor party, Kevin Rudd has dramatically resigned as Foreign Minister, saying leadership rumblings have become a “soap opera” that’s impacting business confidence.
Last night, Rudd released a statement saying he felt he no longer had Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s support and as such, couldn’t continue to serve as Foreign Minister.
“Frankly I have been shocked and disappointed by the tone and content of the intensely personal attacks lodged against me. Whatever our differences in politics I do not believe that these sorts of vicious personal attacks have a place in political life,” he said.
“There are other factors, too, that I had to take into consideration today. The truth is, the Australian people regard this whole affair as little better than a soap opera – and they are right. And under current circumstances, I won’t be part of it,” Rudd added.
Rudd said he agrees with claims made by peak business bodies that the leadership saga is negatively affecting the business community and distracting the Government from its real business.
“It is important that business confidence is maintained in Australia. The economy and jobs are core to what any responsible Government is about…Under no circumstances do I want Australia’s international reputation brought into disrepute because of this ongoing saga,” he added.
Rudd didn’t make it clear whether he’d challenge Gillard’s leadership, saying only that he’d now return to Brisbane from a G20 Summit in Washington, to consult with family, his community and parliamentary colleagues as to what his “next step should be,” before making another statement to the public before Parliament resumes on Monday.
Rudd added he would never be part of a “stealth attack on a sitting PM who was elected by the people.”
“We all know that what happened then was wrong, and it must never happen again.”
Gillard calls leadership ballot
Prime Minister Gillard has responded to Rudd’s resignation, calling a Monday morning ballot to decide upon the Labor Party’s leadership.
“I have formed this view that we need a ballot in order to settle this question once and for all. More importantly, it is in the interests of the Australian nation,” she said.
“For far too long we have seen squabbling… This has moved to a distraction and that’s not good enough. Australians are rightly sick of this and want it brought to an end.”
Gillard said she’ll renominate herself for the leadership, and expects to win with the support of her colleagues. She went on to say that if she doesn’t win the ballot, she’ll move to the backbench, and “renounce any further claim to the Labor leadership.”
“And I would ask the same of Kevin Rudd. If he loses that ballot he should commit and renounce any further claims to the leadership and act in the interests of the ALP,” Gillard added.