Kevin Rudd has been reinstated as leader of the Labor Party in a leadership spill on Wednesday. Caucus voted 57 to 45 in favour of Rudd, in a bid to improve the ALP’s polling numbers ahead of the federal election
After a day in which a petition was circulated calling for a leadership contest, and two independents, Oakeshott and Windsor, announced they would not recontest their seats at the election, Gillard called the leadership ballot for 7pm.
Bill Shorten, a long-time Gillard supporter, issued a statement saying: “I believe that Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party is a once in a generation risk to Australia’s future and would take the nation backwards… I have carefully considered my position, and have come to the view that Labor stands the best chance of continuing to deliver nation changing reforms under the leadership of Kevin Rudd.”
On calling the ballot, Gillard said “if you win you are Labor leader and if you lose you retire from politics”. She confirmed she would retire from politics if she lost.
Last month, Rudd declared his support for same-sex marriage – a change of heart he attributed to a period of “deep reflection” following a conversation with a gay friend on the subject. It remains to be seen if he will act on those sentiments before the next federal election.
Cat Rose, from Community Action Against Homophobia said, “A change of heart is always welcome but the fact remains that [Rudd] spent several years as a homophobic prime minister who stood in the way of equal rights. He has to make amends and that can only be done by getting equal marriage laws through parliament as a matter of urgency. Whatever else is before parliament, a significant step forward for civil rights has to take priority.”
Rudd will likely reshuffle his cabinet in the coming days. Several ministers have already resigned, including Treasurer Wayne Swan, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet and Trade Minister Craig Emerson.
It is not yet known if the federal election date will be rescheduled.