1.20pm – The Minister for Regional Australia, Simon Crean, has asked Prime Minister Julia Gillard to call a leadership ballot.
Crean says he has asked Gillard to call a spill. He says if she refuses the Caucus should petition her for a ballot.
Crean says Kevin Rudd should run. Crean says he will support Rudd.
Crean says he is willing to nominate for the deputy leader’s position. He says he does not want to be Treasurer.
Crean says he has not spoken to Kevin Rudd in the past 48 hours. “There is no ticket between me and Kevin,” Crean says. He said Rudd will have to nominate him for deputy.
Kevin Rudd is now a more “disciplined asset”, according to Crean.
Crean says the party is in a stalemate and must look beyond the two individuals to the future of the party.
At one point during Crean’s media conference in the corridor of Parliament House, journalist Laurie Oakes asked Crean how he felt to be part of a “mob of men” bringing down the nation’s first female prime minister.
Crean says there is no point in continuing on in a hung parliament in the current circumstances. He refused to comment on the possibility of an early election in the event of the ALP choosing a new leader.
- Listen to Crean’s media conference (25m)
Partial text of Simon Crean’s statement to the media calling for a leadership ballot.
I think you’ve seen the frustration I’ve been expressing in recent times. It seems to me the party, through the government, is in a stalemate position. Something needs to be done to break this deadlock, to resolve the issue once and for all, and to enable us to get on with the job that we’re actually elected to do, and that is to campaign on behalf of Australian people through Labor values.
I have talked to the Prime Minister yesterday and today, and as a result of that conversation I informed her that I would think about my position and get back to her before I made this announcement, that I am asking her to call a spill of all leadership positions in the party. I will not be standing for the leader. I will be putting myself forward in the leadership team for the deputy leader. If the Prime Minister does not agree to it, which I expect she won’t, then I urge members of caucus to petition in an appropriate way for the calling of such a meeting. This is an issue that has to be resolved. There is too much at stake. This is a very regretful decision for me.
I think everyone knows the relationship between the Prime Minister and myself goes back some time. This is not personal. This is about the party, its future, and the future of the country. I actually believe we can win the next election. I believe that the agenda that is there but not understood well enough as reflected in many of the comments that come back, we need to settle this, move forward. As for the position of the positions being declared open, Kevin Rudd, in my view, has no alternative but to stand for the leadership. He can’t continue to play the game that says he is reluctant or he has to be drafted. I know the party will not draft him.
I know the party is looking for change and clear air, and they don’t see that simply by changing the leader. That’s why I’m putting myself forward as part of the leadership group, to demonstrate that we are serious about not just changing leaders, but of actually showing leadership. That’s what we’re elected to do, that’s what I want to be part of, and I think in all my life, public life, I’ve demonstrated that is the driving force. For me, the position itself again is that a personal one that I’m taking. I’m doing this in the interests of the Labor Party and, in turn, the nation. I believe that the great things that I was part of in the Hawke-Keating government, that decisions, bold decisions, decisions, bold decisions, decisions that went through due process, difficult decisions, the decisions built around consensus, the decisions built around bringing people together, the decisions around growing the economy, as we have demonstrated in government we can do, growing it for a purpose, for fairness, for distribution, for the values that I, like so many others, joined the Labor Party for.
We can’t win from the position we are in, in the polls. I don’t believe our future and our chances in the polls is just going to be determined by a simple change of leader. People have got to believe we have conviction, that we believe in what we stand for, there is a coherence of message and we are determined to pursue it. What we have to do is to take people with us. That means being prepared to argue the case, and I know this: I know the people do not want an Abbott-led government.
I get so many people in frustration to me saying, “We are not going to allow that man to lead this country, are we?” Now, I agree with that from an obvious point of view, but the truth is there is a mood out there that does not want him; but is fed up with us at the moment. We’ve got to change it. I hope this circuit-breaker does it and I look forward to the caucus taking a mature decision in the interests of their future and this country’s future.