Julia Gillard today retained the Labor Party leadership after Simon Crean forced her to call a spill vote. But the spill was a huge anti-climax after the expected front-runner for the leadership, Kevin Rudd, declared he would not nominate.
Mr Crean, desperate to end the leadership uncertainty that has plagued Labor for the past year, had called on Kevin Rudd to stand against Ms Gillard, and pledged his support for the former prime minister. Mr Crean ruled himself out of contention.
Kevin Rudd fronted the media and said that he would uphold his promise not to challenge Ms Gillard for the Labor leadership.
In response, the Prime Minister called a Labor caucus vote on all leadership positions at 4.30pm, inviting her rivals to “take your best shot”.
MP Chris Hayes told the media outside the caucus meeting that only Ms Gillard and her deputy, Wayne Swan, nominated for leader and deputy; as a result Ms Gillard and Mr Swan held onto their positions.
The drama had heightened during Question Time. The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, moved to suspend standing orders and to move a motion of no confidence, saying Australia had been let down by an “incompetent” government.
“Does the Prime Minister agree with former prime minister Bob Hawke that if you can’t govern yourself, you can’t govern the country? … Not only does the Coalition have no confidence in this Prime Minister, but plainly senior members of her own government no longer have confidence in this Prime Minister,” Mr Abbot said.
Key independents Andrew Wilkie, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor sat with the opposition but the motion to suspend standing orders, requiring a majority vote, failed 73-71.
Mr Crean, calling for the leadership spill, said “something needs to be done to break this deadlock”, for once and for all. Having previously stood in the Gillard camp, calling Mr Rudd a “prima donna”, he said he would support the former PM in a leadership ballot. He says that Mr Rudd had no alternative but to stand for the leadership. According to 702 ABC Sydney, Ms Gillard sacked him soon after. – Michael Turner, Evan Zlatkis and Kristin Venae
Top photo: Julia Gillard during Question Time today; image from ABC-TV