CHAOS IN CANBERRA: Gillard Survives Bizarre Day As PM


Key points:

  • Simon Crean has denied he will spark a second leadership challenge after the May Budget is released.
  • Gillard remains PM after chaotic day in Canberra
  • Re-elected leader unopposed after Kevin Rudd declined to stand

5.17pm: Gillard: “The whole business is completely at an end.”

She won’t be taking questions.

(But you can be sure she was taking names today.)

5.06pm: Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan will hold a press conference shortly in Canberra. Some talk of healing is likely – but will anyone be able to believe it?

5.05pm: There’s this from Dan Anstey on Twitter.

4.47pm: Julia Gillard finishes the day still in power, but her already precarious leadership has been further damaged by the open display of disunity from MPs today.

It is a true Pyrrhic victory. Labor MPs are openly divided and and Simon Crean was sacked as a minister. It caps a horror week for the Government in which it failed to pass its package of media reforms following a bruising fight with practically the entire media industry.

MPs will now return to their electorates for six weeks to consider what happens next before returning to Canberra in early May for the Budget. They can be assured of plenty of feedback from voters on their break.

4.45pm: Gillard re-elected as ALP leader unopposed.

Swan remains the deputy leader.

You couldn’t make it up.

4.28pm: Rudd backer Anthony Albanese says he believes the former PM has made the “right decision” by not bringing on a divisive ballot in which he challenged the Prime Minister.

He also says if Crean runs for the deputy leadership, he’ll be voting for Wayne Swan.


Kevin Rudd has announced he won’t break the pledge he gave the Australian people about not challenging the Prime Minister.

This leaves the party in chaos – Julia Gillard’s authority is hugely undermined.

4.11pm: Here’s Chris Weston of IG Markets over at the Fin’s live blog:

“This move has, and will continue to increase the political risk in Australia. The likelihood of a September 14 election now looks slim, despite assurances, as the reaction from the independents is not fully known. This will cause jitters in the local market which can be seen by an initial fall in both AUD/USD and the ASX 200, although the index has picked up and is now firmer by 0.3 per cent.”

More here.

3.46pm: Simon Benson reports at The Daily Telegraph:

SOME of Julia Gillard’s key backers have conceded that she could lose the ballot at 4.30pm.

The expected numbers are believed to propel Kevin Rudd back into the leadership by between seven and 10 votes.

Other sources, however, say she could hang on. Read on here.

3.41pm: The ABC’s Latika Bourke says on Twitter there are TWENTY MPs in Kevin Rudd’s office urging him to run:

Twenty! It’s not a meeting, it’s a siege.

3.14pm: Elsewhere on BI this afternoon, The Best Twitter Quips On Simon Crean’s Press Conference

3.11pm: Here’s political researcher Andrew Hughes of ANU with a grim assessment for Labor regardless of the outcome, as quoted by Bloomberg.

“Labor would probably do better under a new leader but only if the party can avoid a back-stabbing bloodbath… Whoever wins, it’s vital the party gets behind them once and for all to have any chance of winning the election.”

More here.

3.05pm: Bookies Sportsbet have Kevin Rudd as the clear favourite to win this afternoon’s ballot – he’s at $1.33 to Julia Gillard’s $3.

2.56pm: Leo D’Angelo Fisher has a column up on BRW on the catastrophes of leadership that have led to today’s chaos. He’s scathing of both sides. Excerpt:

“As Opposition Leader and alternative prime minister, Tony Abbott has felt no need to compose the best possible frontbench and future ministry. The deadwood in the present shadow ministry in unrivalled in modern political history.”

Read on.

2.49pm: So, could we be facing an election earlier than September?

If we have a change of Prime Minister now – to Kevin Rudd – he would come under massive pressure to go to the country for a mandate. But if he did decide to call it, it would only be for the House of Representatives and a separate election for half the Senate would have to be called by the middle of next year.

Also in the mix is the question of whether Labor under Rudd would retain the support of the crossbenchers in Parliament. If they walked away, that could also trigger an election.


2.46pm: The motion to suspend standing orders for a vote of no confidence in the Government failed – 73 votes to 71.

2.12pm: For some great background on the brutal leadership battles in Australian politics, read this great piece by Nick Bryant at the BBC. Excerpt:

Whether in government or opposition, party leaders have about as much job security as managers of Chelsea.

Canberra, then, is in danger of becoming the coup capital of the democratic world. Arguably, it is already.

Read on.

2.10pm: The Opposition is moving a motion of no confidence in the Government. Tony Abbott’s on his feet, saying the Government “gets worse and worse with each passing hour”.

2.08pm: That was quick. Simon Crean has been sacked from his ministry. He’s sitting on the back bench.


1.46pm: Twitter war!

Phil Coorey from the AFR tweeted that NSW Labor general secretary Sam Dastyari had instructed his faction to fall in behind Rudd. Dastyari jumped on to deny it. Angrily:

1.28pm: The ASX 200 ticked up just after Crean started talking shortly after 1pm…

1.23pm: Question Time coming up from 2pm. Watch the fun over at ABC News 24 live stream.

Looks like it’s on.

Former Labor leader and current Arts Minister just called a press conference in Canberra in which he revealed he had told Prime Minister Julia Gillard she should spill all federal ALP leadership positions.

Indications are that Gillard has said she won’t budge.

Crean said Kevin Rudd needed to stand for the leadership.

He said in recent conversations he had seen a “changed Kevin” – or, “at least, a more disciplined asset”.

Could the Ruddster be Prime Minister again by the end of the day? We’ll be watching.

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