A Piece Of Paper That May Not Even Exist Helped Trigger The Labor Leadership Spill

Julia Gillard went on Sky News yesterday around 4pm Canberra time to announce a caucus meeting to decide on the leadership after reports of a petition circulating among MPs that would have forced the fateful gathering anyway.

But where’s that petition?

David Crowe reports at The Australian that key backers of Rudd’s challenge have “conceded they had never seen the document, let alone signed it.”

Gillard told Sky that “as you’ve been reporting, as others have been reporting” the document was doing the rounds and “in these circumstances” she had decided to bring the matter to a head.

Around three hours later she was no longer prime minister.

The petition may turn up – and it would be fascinating – but it may be that a mythical piece of paper may have played an extraordinarily part in unseating a prime minister. Even if it does exist with a few names on it, after a protracted campaign of leaking and briefings by her political enemies it’s a demonstration of the power that rumours can have in politics.

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