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ALP Leadership Spill: Live Blog

10.30pm – Channel 10 Late News surveys the day’s events.

8.15pm – Ed Husic, member for Chifley, one of the Assistant Whips, has resigned his position. Husic appeared on Sky News and confirmed his resignation. Janelle Saffin, member for Page, has also resigned. Earlier today, Chief Whip Joel Fitzgibbon said he was considering his position. He can be expected to resign prior to the resumption of Parliament in May.

Crean, Marles, Fitzgibbon, Husic and Saffin are the five of the six main victims of today’s leadership fracas. Rudd is the sixth.


7.50pm – The reaction of most people to today’s events is “WTF”, according to independent Senator Nick Xenophon. He told 7.30 that no-one will support Rudd again. Whilst the May Budget could be a “circuit-breaker”, the voters have the baseball bats out ready. He said Rudd should say he will never accept the leadership under any circumstances. Greens leader Senator Christine Milne says it’s too late now because all the bridges have been burnt.

7.45pm – Kevin Rudd and Simon Crean are both former leaders of the ALP. A third former leader, Mark Latham, has launched a vitriolic attack on Rudd, Joel Fitzgibbon and Graham Richardson. Read about Latham’s comments at the Sydney Morning Herald.

Latham castigated his former friend Joel Fitzgibbon, describing him as the dregs of the labour movement. He attacked Graham Richardson for his association with Eddie Obeid.

7.35pm – This is now over, Trade Minister Craig Emerson tells Leigh Sales on ABC television. He says he doesn’t operate in response to opinion polls.

“Is defeat preferable to trying something different?” Sales asks Emerson. He responds with an answer about the importance of the carbon tax and says the government is building a strong economy.


7.10pm – It’s not the outcome I wanted but it is a circuit-breaker, Simon Crean tells Leigh Sales on ABC television. There’s no question Rudd should have run, Crean says. It gives Gillard a much stronger mandate. “In my view there’s no way he can credibly argue his position should be taken seriously.”


Hopefully today will resolve the destabilisation, Crean says. “Frankly, I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t test it.”

7.02pm – “All that trouble for a phantom challenge” – Read Michelle Grattan’s opinion of today’s events.

6.49pm – Richard Marles, the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, has resigned. Marles appeared on television this afternoon in support of Kevin Rudd. He has been the ALP member for the Geelong-based seat of Corio in Victoria since 2007.

6.34pm – “Australian Prime Minister Survives Attempt To Oust Her” – Read the New York Times report on today’s leadership events in the Gillard government.

6.20pm – News Limited’s Malcolm Farr has this to say: “Mr Rudd’s credibility and his prospects for regaining the leadership in the future have been trashed by his refusal to stand, particularly as he did nothing in public to dismiss a week’s worth of leadership speculation. But at least one of his supporters has lost his job for standing up for him and others are in danger of being sacked.” Read Farr’s article here.

6.09pm – Trade Minister Craig Emerson says the public would be “mystified” about what today was all about. It has been an “unedifying day”, he says.

6.00pm – Defence Minister Stephen Smith says there are a number of people who need to “consider their positions”. He says this is a government that has been engaged in “substantial reform” and the leadership issues are now in the past.

Smith suggests that Joel Fitzgibbon needs to consider his position and there are others as well. They should take themselves out of positions of responsibility.


Smith says Gillard has been unanimously elected in 2010 and again today. In last year’s challenge she had a substantial win, 71-31. “It’s over. That’s it. Finished.”

Smith won’t elaborate on who he means but says people who have said or done things “publicly” should consider their positions.

Asked about Rudd, he said when there’s a nil contest it usually means the challenger doesn’t have sufficient votes.

5.52pm – Greens leader Senator Christine Milne says her party will not allow the reform process to be derailed. She says the people letting down the side are the backroom people in the ALP. Asked whether she would support a no-confidence motion, Milne says “why would I put him there?” She says there are reforms, such as the Gonski school funding proposals, that she wants to see through the parliament before the election.


Milne says the crossbench vote today was on a procedural matter, not a substantive motion. She makes it clear she is not interested in bringing down the government before the scheduled election.

Milne described today’s events as a “complete shambles”. She said she cannot remember such a day. Take one step back and talk to people in education and elsewhere and progressive voters ask how these people can jeopardise important reforms.

5.30pm – Tony Abbott’s press conference: “A remarkable, even bizarre day in the nation’s history but it doesn’t have to be like this. I want to say to the people, you deserve better.. the coalition is ready… we do have real solutions and positive plans.”

  • Listen to Abbott’s press conference (9m)

Abbott: “Nothing has been resolved. The civil war goes on and will for as long as Gillard and Rudd are in the parliament… We need an election, we can’t wait until September 14… if she was really concerned about the country she would call an election.”

Abbott says Gillard only survived on a technicality in today’s vote to suspend Standing Orders. “When you’ve lost the support of Simon Crean, when you’ve lost the support of Richard Marles, when you never had the support of Kevin Rudd…


“Minority government is an experiment that has failed,” says Abbott.

The people must be asking themselves, “how long can this circus last?” says Abbott. “This is not about me, it’s not even about the coalition.”

“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” says Abbott. “It’s time the people had a chance to choose the prime minister.”

5.28pm – This is the audio of Julia Gillard’s and Wayne Swan’s press conference:

  • Listen to Gillard and Swan (3m)
  • Watch Gillard and Swan (4m)

Transcript of statements by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan.

GILLARD: Thank you very much. I intend to make a short statement. I don’t intend to take questions today. There is very much work to do.

I’m grateful to my colleagues for their continuing support of me as just demonstrated in our Labor Party meeting.

I accept their continuing support of me as Prime Minister and Labor Leader, with a sense of deep humility and a sense of resolve.

I never sought office for its own sake; I have only ever sought office in the interests of the nation, and to assist our nation to prepare to meet the challenges of the future.

It is in that spirit that I intend to continue to govern.

We’ve got a lot of work to do and we will continue to do it, making sure Australians have got the benefit of jobs and opportunity, making sure that in our nation we are getting ready for the future.

Rolling out the National Broadband Network, improving support for people with disabilities through our new scheme Disability Care, making sure too that we support modern families with the stresses and strains of everyday life and cost of living pressures.

And above all, ensuring that every Australian child gets a world-class education and a ticket to the future.

That is the purpose with which we govern, and that is how we intend to continue. That is what matters to Australians, and it is what matters to me.

Today the leadership of our political party, the Labor Party, has been settled and settled in the most conclusive fashion possible.

The whole business is completely at an end; it has ended now.

The Government has a plan for the nation’s future. We’ve got plenty of work to be getting on with it, and we’ll be getting on with it in a few minutes’ time.

I’ll turn now to the Deputy Prime Minister for some comments.

SWAN: Thanks very much Prime Minister. I think it’s pretty fair to say that there was very strong support in the party room for the Prime Minister today.

And that’s because this Prime Minister is a tough leader, and a leader who is a great champion for our country and for the reforms that are required to create future prosperity. And also to spread opportunity around our country.

Now I think today’s result does end these matters once and for all, and what we will do is rededicate ourselves to working every minute to put in place a program which will lift our country up and maximise all of the opportunities which will flow in our region and to this country in the years ahead.

For my part, I’ve got a Budget to prepare. I’ve been working on that very, very hard over the last few weeks and the Government will continue to do that.

But from our perspective, it’s back to work.

Thanks very much.

5.20pm – Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is to hold a press conference at 5.30pm.

5.15pm – Gillard says there is much work to be done and she won’t take questions. “I never sought office for its own sake, only in the interests of the nation. In that spirit I will continue to govern.”

Jobs.. opportunity.. NBN.. disability care.. modern families.. cost of living pressures.. a world class education for every child.. that is the purpose for which we govern..

The leadership has been settled “in the most conclusive manner possible”.


Wayne Swan endorses Gillard’s comments. Says it’s “back to work”.


5.05pm – Peter Hartcher (Fairfax) says this is a debacle and unprecedented. He says Gillard has been embarrassed and Rudd’s credibility has taken a blow. He says people have gone out on a limb to get numbers for him but will not do so again. Hartcher says about half the caucus has been hung out to dry by Rudd.

5.04pm – Michael Kroger says he is speechless and the Liberal Party must be rejoicing at this outcome.

5.03pm – Prime Minister Julia Gillard is to hold a press conference at 5.15pm. The media have been told there will be no questions allowed.

4.55pm – The three casualties of today’s farcical events: Simon Crean, sacked from the ministry; Kevin Rudd, squibbed it; Joel Fitzgibbon, in an untenable position as Whip.

4.53pm – “How did we get to this position?” a journalist asks Fitzgibbon but he says it’s time he kept his views to himself, now that Gillard has been returned. He says he has offered his support to the government.

4.51pm – The ALP caucus meeting took less than 15 minutes. Joel Fitzgibbon, a Rudd supporter, has congratulated Gillard. He says it is well known he was concerned about the party’s electoral prospects. “Over the course of the next six weeks I shall consider whether it’s in the best interests of the party for me to continue as Chief Whip.”

  • Listen to Joel Fitzgibbon (9m)


4.50pm – Chris Hayes says today’s events “put beyond doubt” the issue of leadership in the ALP.

4.49pm – News Limited journalist Samantha Maiden has tweeted: “Dog act by Kevin Rudd letting his supporters go DeathCon1 and then squib it. Shades of 2010 when he let Emmo back him on Sky then didn’t run.”

4.46pm – This is a tweet from the ALP’s official Twitter account:


4.46pm – The ALP Caucus secretary, Chris Hayes, has announced that the caucus has re-elected Julia Gillard as leader and Wayne Swan as deputy leader.


Hayes said the leadership were declared vacant and he received only one nomination for each position. In the absence of any other candidates, there was no vote taken.

  • Listen to Chris Hayes (6m)
  • Watch Chris Hayes (3m)

4.30pm – The Liberal Party has released a video in anticipation of Kevin Rudd assuming the leadership. It appeared on YouTube just minutes before Rudd announced that he would not be nominating.

4.29pm – Albanese says he will be voting for Swan if Simon Crean nominates for the deputy leader’s position.

4.26pm – Anthony Albanese says Rudd has made the right decision. He says he has adhered to his commitment never to support a spill motion against a sitting prime minister.

Albanese says he has gone about his job and will continue to do so.

  • Listen to Albanese (3m)

4.23pm – With the caucus ballot only minutes away, it now seems that Gillard will be re-elected and the only question remaining is whether Wayne Swan will be challenged for the deputy leadership.

Bob Katter has told Sky News that it is inevitable that the matter will arise again later in the year.

4.18pm – Kevin Rudd reiterates his statement that he will not challenge and would only accept the leadership if it was vacant and he was drafted. “I’m here to inform you that those conditions do not exist.”

Rudd has spoken to the media in the corridor of Parliament House. He said he made it clear last year that he would not challenge for the leadership and would only be available if it was vacant and he was drafted.

  • Listen to Rudd (2m)

Text of Kevin Rudd’s statement.

21 March 2013 – Transcript

Let me just say a few things guys.

When I say to my Parliamentary colleagues and to the people at large across Australia that I would not challenge for the Labor leadership – I believe in honouring my word.

Others treat such commitments lightly. I do not.

I’ve been very plain about that for a long period of time.

Secondly, I said that the only circumstances under which I would consider a return to the leadership would be if there was an overwhelming majority of the Parliamentary Party requesting such a return – drafting me to return. And the position was vacant.

I am here to inform you that those circumstances do not exist. And therefore in the absence of any such draft, notwithstanding what Simon Crean had to say this morning, I will be adhering absolutely to the commitments I gave to the Australian people and to my Parliamentary colleagues.

This is a difficult day for the Australian Labor Party – a difficult day for the Australia Government but I take my word seriously. I’ve given that word, I gave it solemnly in that room after the last ballot and I will adhere to that word today.

I therefore suggest to all and sundry across the Party and the Government that we unite in ensuring Tony Abbott does not simply treat the Lodge as if it’s his own personal property. We’re a Government with a proud record in health and education and the economy a record upon which we should robustly stand.

But I am not prepared to dishonour my word which I gave solemnly. I will therefore adhere to that word as I have said before.

And excuse me I am going to Caucus.

4.15pm – Dick Adams, the member for Lyons, is also overseas, along with Senator Bob Carr. This means there are 100 members of caucus, with 51 required to win.

News media reports now are strongly suggesting Rudd does not have the numbers to win.

4.13pm – Peter van Onselen on Sky says the Gillard camp is very confident it has the numbers and this explains why there has been no announcement from Rudd.

4.10pm – In the midst of the leadership spill, Derryn Hinch has claimed to have heard rumours that Gough Whitlam has died. On Twitter, Troy Bramston says he has contacted Whitlam’s office and he is fine.

3.58pm – There is still no official announcement from Kevin Rudd about his intentions in this afternoon’s leadership ballot. This seems to matter to the television media who have run out of people to talk to but it may not be an issue inside the caucus. Nevertheless, as yet there is no confirmation from Rudd that he is running.

3.52pm – In a bizarre juxtaposition to the leadership spill, the ALP’s former Senate leader Chris Evans is making his valedictory speech in the Senate.

3.49pm – Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan says Gillard will win and lead Labor to victory in the election. See his tweet here.

3.35pm – The Daily Telegraph’s Simon Benson says Kevin Rudd could win by 7-8 votes. Read his article here.

3.31pm – This is video from Question Time earlier this afternoon.

3.29pm – Michael Kroger says he expects Kevin Rudd to win and make Simon Crean Treasurer.

3.27pm – Simon Crean’s office has confirmed that he was sacked from the ministry after approaching Gillard to call a leadership spill.

3.20pm – Steven Gibbons, member for Bendigo, says he will support Gillard.

3.06pm – Junior minister Kate Lundy says she is supporting Julia Gillard. Backbencher Julie Owens says she will also support Gillard

3.03pm – This is SBS’s Karen Middleton commenting on the leadership spill:

Take your best shot, Gillard says:

Labor Senator Mark Furner says he signed the petition for a spill:

3.00pm – Media reports say there is no certainty about the numbers in the ALP caucus for this afternoon’s ballot. There will be little news over the next 90 minutes as the caucus prepares for the ballot.

The situation is “incredibly fluid”, says ALP strategist Bruce Hawker. He claimed Kevin Rudd is ahead with a few votes unclear.

Here is an extract of Simon Crean’s statement at 1pm this afternoon:

2.58pm – Independents Tony Windsor, Andrew Wilkie and Rob Oakeshott all voted to suspend Standing Orders. Peter Slipper and Craig Thomson voted against. The vote was passed 73-71 but failed because it didn’t reach an absolute majority of 76.

2.55pm -The winner of this afternoon’s ALP leadership ballot will need 51 votes.

There are 102 ALP members of the House of Representatives and Senate. However, Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr is overseas. The winner will need 51 of the 101 votes that will be cast at 4.30pm.



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Malcolm Farnsworth
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