Kevin Rudd set to challenge Australian Prime Minister

by Mark Benson on February 19, 2012

in Money, Business and Finance

Battle lines drawn as Kevin Rudd set to challenge Australian Prime Minister

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd is believed to be on the verge of challenging current Prime Minister Julia Gillard for leadership of the Labor Party. Any successful attempt to topple Julia Gillard would see the victor taking on the mantle of Prime Minister of Australia. So can we expect Kevin Rudd to step forward and stake his claim?

Kevin Rudd begins a game of high stakes poker

While on the surface the Australian Labor Party would appear to be at ease with itself, there are massive cracks emerging under the surface. It is believed that an ongoing battle between Julia Gillard’s team and Kevin Rudd’s team led to the emergence of secret video being uploaded to YouTube showing the former prime minister ranting, raving and swearing at his personnel.

Those who have looked into Australia will be well aware that Kevin Rudd was the victim of a backroom coup by Julia Gillard which saw him ousted as the Labor Party leader with the new kid on the block emerging victorious. There has been ongoing bitterness behind-the-scenes and the decision to install Kevin Rudd as Australia’s Foreign Minister was a case of keeping your friends close and your enemies even closer. However, over the last few weeks the relationship between the two has reached a low amid claims that it was Julia Gillard’s team who released previously unseen video footage although this has been refuted by the Prime Minister’s entourage.

The Australian Labor Party in turmoil

Over the last 24 hours we have seen the first lawmaker in the Labor government breaking ranks and calling for changes at the top. Darren Cheeseman, who represents the Victoria State, has expressed his opinion in a very blunt manner calling for Julia Gillard to resign due to the damage the ongoing speculation is doing to the Labor Party.

After months of trying to keep the problems in-house it seems that the political turmoil in Australia is set to break out into the mass media and it will effectively become a fight to the end. Julia Gillard is under major pressure with her popularity rating at rock bottom, an inability to push through laws she had promised and a crumbling alliance with various fringe parties. When you also take into account the Australia Day issue which saw a violent confrontation between the government and aboriginal demonstrators it has certainly not been a good few weeks for the Prime Minister.

Is Kevin Rudd the man to take Australia forward?

They say that a day in politics is a long time well Kevin Rudd has so far played his hand very well, keeping himself in the background while all the time placing pressure upon Julia Gillard. In something of a PR coup he has turned around the comments attributed to him in the leaked video confirming that he has “learned from his mistakes”. As we touched on above, the video footage shows the former prime minister swearing and blaming others for incorrect wording in a pre-recorded speech in Chinese despite the fact that he himself is fluent in Mandarin.

The assumption made by many people was that Kevin Rudd was more than happy to pass the blame to others when things went wrong but more than happy to take the glory when things went right. It will be interesting to see how the Australian public react to this leaked video and indeed whether the “hands-up” approach by Kevin Rudd will further undermine Julia Gillard’s position as Labor leader and Prime Minister of Australia.

Julia Gillard claims she has strong support

Despite the fact that Julia Gillard is now claiming strong support among grassroots Labor members it seems that she has lost the support of her political allies. It looks as though Kevin Rudd, unofficially, has support from 40 of the Labor lawmakers and only needs a further 12 to effectively win the battle for leader of the Labor Party. Julia Gillard’s supporters believe she has 45 votes “in the bag” with a further 103 Labor lawmakers undecided at this point in time.

It will be interesting to see how the general public react to the ongoing spat between the former Labor Party colleagues and indeed whether the emergence of opposition leader Tony Abbott, who saw his public popularity rise by 3% to 40%, will hinder the process. Julia Gillard currently has a popular support rating of 37% which is down 3% over the last few months. Would Kevin Rudd bring the Labor Party back together and take it forward?

Unwelcome taxes

Julia Gillard has inherited something of a poisoned chalice at this moment in time as the economic situation in Australia has been impacted by worldwide issues. The authorities have effectively been forced to increase income with the introduction of a number of carbon taxes, green taxes and direct taxes upon industry such as mining. While she has obtained support in parliament to push through some of her tax changes she has found it very difficult to justify these with the wider general public and only holds a one seat majority after a number of her allies effectively jumped ship.

There is growing concern that the introduction of new taxes at this point of the economic cycle could prove disastrous in the medium term and opposition leaders are demanding a rethink. Not only will this test the leadership qualities of Julia Gillard but it will also put the Labor Party in a difficult position and potentially give the opposition the chance to increase its share of the vote moving forward.

Conclusion

For months now there has been speculation regarding Kevin Rudd returning as leader of the Labor Party and Prime Minister of Australia at the expense of Julia Gillard. In public the two have been very friendly with each other but behind the scenes there has been briefing of selected journalists and indeed it now seems as though Labor lawmakers are turning against their leader.

However, supporters of Julia Gillard are suggesting that many people have very short memories because Kevin Rudd was rejected for his aggressive and autocratic style of leadership and many of those supporting him today helped to push him overboard. These certainly are challenging days for the Australian Labor Party!

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