Rumblings of yet another Labor leadership challenge are getting louder and with only two weeks sitting of Federal Parliament remaining, it’s now or never for Kevin Rudd to make his move.
Julia Gillard’s support is once again being questioned, with Paul Howes, Secretary of the Australian Workers Union (AWU), being forced to reconfirm his organisation’s backing of the PM. One of the ‘faceless men’ who ousted Kevin Rudd as leader of the party, Mr Howes responded “absolutely” when asked if Julia Gillard was the right person to lead Labor to the next election. ‘She’s the right person to lead the party in September, and she will lead the party in September,” he said. “What we want to see is the movement unite behind the leader of the movement, who has been confirmed as the leader of the movement numerous times, so we can take up the fight to Tony Abbott, and address the issues that really matter to working Australians.”
However, it seems that the Greens think Kevin Rudd could perhaps stop a complete landslide victory by a Tony Abbott led coalition. And new Galaxy polling published by News Limited shows that a return to a Rudd-lead party would deliver a six-point lift in the primary vote, saving 18 seats, and at least giving the party a chance of victory.
Leader of the Greens, Senator Christine Milne spoke on Sky News’s Australian Agenda and said it was important to stop Tony Abbott having control of bother the Upper and Lower houses, “Obviously a lift in Labor’s primary vote would mean there’s a better chance of saving the parliament from the excesses of an Abbott government,” Senator Milne said. “We want to stop Tony Abbott getting both houses of parliament.” Of the continual Government infighting, Senator Milne said, “I wish they’d get on with it because I think the country would like to actually debate some issues leading into the election.”
Not everyone is behind the push to have Kevin Rudd back in the top job with Education Minister, Peter Garrett, confirming his position to never serve on the frontbench of a Rudd-led Labor Government. “I haven’t changed my view and it remains as is,” he told ABC television on Sunday.
Deputy Opposition, Leader Julie Bishop, says switching to Kevin Rudd, as Labor leader won’t help, as Australians are sick of the leadership “merry-go-round”.
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Australians still face an agonising 90 days until the scheduled Federal Election date of 14 September, but surely it’s time to let people make their choice now?
Speculation continues as to whether or not Kevin Rudd will return as Labor leader and you’d have to wonder, with the last two weeks Julia Gillard has had, if she’d perhaps be glad to have the decision made for her. There is no doubting that Ms Gillard is a strong-willed woman, but she has had her fair share of critics ever since she deposed Rudd as leader of the party.
Over the last two weeks the barbs delivered at Ms Gillard have become much more personal. The sexuality of her partner has come into question and her physical appearance has been lampooned at a Coalition fundraiser. And of course, let’s not forget the policy issues, such as putting abortion on the political agenda and the struggle to convince the remaining states to sign up to the Gonski reforms by the stated deadline. And everywhere she looks, there’s Kevin Rudd being ‘mobbed’ by adoring fans, undermining her already shaky position at the top of the political tree.
So, if Kevin Rudd and his supporters do succeed in regaining the leadership, we could be heading to the polls a lot earlier – thank goodness! Currently, the date of 14 September is only the proposed date and is not set in stone until the Governor-General issues a writ. Whilst 1 July 2013 is the earliest date that this can be issued, this doesn’t prevent a new date being announced, as long as there is a minimum election campaign of 33 days. Also, 14 September was announced by Julia Gillard. Kevin Rudd or any other alternative leader wouldn’t be bound to that date.
This means that, assuming it’s announced today, we could be looking at Saturday 20 July as the earliest date for an election. A July election would only cover the House of Representatives and the four territory senators and there would also have to be a separate half-Senate election in the first six months of 2014. This, coupled with the timeframes for passing of the appropriation bills, which have passed the House, but must also pass the Senate, would probably rule out this date. Therefore, it is probable that 3 August would be the earliest date we could hit the polls.
Even if Kevin Rudd were to become leader and decide to hold off until 14 September, an Opposition no-confidence motion, if supported by independent ministers, could force an earlier election.
The next two weeks in Parliament are shaping up to be intriguing to say the least. We will find out once and for all if Kevin has what it takes to oust Julia and whether a Tony Abbott led Coalition is ready to put the Labor Government to the sword, sooner rather than later.
Is a leadership change imminent?
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