Melbourne: Australian Prime Minister and
his deputy will fight out for the leadership of the Labor
party tomorrow after an unexpected revolt by Julia Gillard
against her leader Kevin Rudd shook the government ahead of a
looming general election.
Rudd today faced a sudden challenge to his leadership
from his deputy Gillard, who backed by other party members
demanded a ballot to settle the leadership issue, in the face
of a slump in the Premier`s support following a series of
A caucus vote will be held tomorrow morning for the
leadership of the Labor party and Rudd said he would fight for
his place against Gillard.
According to media reports, the deputy prime minister
and other senior Labor party members held discussions where
Rudd disclosed that it was crucial for the government`s
stability that the leadership issue was "resolved as a matter
He conceded that a number of factional leaders no
longer supported his leadership. He also informed that Gillard
visited him today to request a leadership ballot.
"It has become apparent to me that a number of
factional leaders no longer support my leadership, that is why
it is imperative these matters be resolved," Rudd said.
"I was elected by the people of Australia to do a job.
I was not elected by the factional leaders of the Labor Party
to do a job. Although they may be seeking to do a job on me,"
Rudd, 53, said the Labor caucus will vote on the party
and Federal Government leadership tomorrow morning and
stressed it was important that these matters were "resolved
"Earlier this evening Julia Gillard requested a ballot
for the leadership. I will be writing to the secretary of
caucus to convene a special meeting tomorrow," he said.
The vote will occur just hours before Rudd is to fly
to a Group of 20 summit in Canada.
The sudden developments have come as Rudd appears to
be struggling in popularity polls as election looms. General
election is expected in the second half of the year.
Gillard, 49, has confirmed she will contest for the
Labor leadership against her leader tomorrow.
"I will be a candidate in tomorrow`s ballot," she
Rudd came to power in 2007 defeating the Conservative
ex-prime minister John Howard by an overwhelming margin, but
the strong support he had enjoyed appears to have dissipated
in the face of some unpopular policy measures.
Rudd said if he wins the ballot tomorrow he will not
be giving ground to the right on issues like climate change
and asylum seekers.
"If I return as the leader of the Government and Prime
Minister, I will be very clear of one thing, this party and
Government will not be lurching to the right on the question
of asylum seekers," Rudd said.
Rudd refused to speculate on whether Gillard would
stay on as Deputy PM if she lost the ballot tomorrow.
But he defended his government`s record, and said he
was elected by the people of Australia, not the ALP`s
"These are important reforms, infrastructure, health,
hospital, closing the gap, also the apology. As Prime Minister
of the country I`m proud of each and every one of these
achievements," he said.
Though Rudd`s popularity has dropped, a recently
released Essential Media poll showed that both Gillard and
Rudd were preferred ahead of opposition leader Tony Abbott as
prime minister by about the same proportion of voters.
Rudd blamed factional powerbrokers within his party
for plotting against him.