Labouring: Prime Minister Julia Gillard is seen leaving The Lodge yesterday. Photo: Andrew Meares The Prime Minister’s partner Tim Mathieson arrived as Canberra enjoyed a public holiday to celebrate its centenary. Photo: Andrew Meares
Kevin Rudd supporters believe the government’s crippling leadership stalemate can only be broken if one or more senior ministers loyal to Prime Minister Julia Gillard tap her on the shoulder.
Appealing to a ”greater loyalty” as Labor eyes a crushing defeat that some fear could decimate it for a generation, key Rudd backers say their man will not challenge but insist that something must give.
They say the ball is now in the court of a clutch of ministers with the Prime Minister’s ear, arguing it is time for a delegation to reprise the role played by Gareth Evans in 1991 when he told a politically wounded Bob Hawke: ”Pull out digger, the dogs are pissing on your swag.”
However party insiders say any such move by ”friendlies” would not be telegraphed and would require ”absolute secrecy” to have any chance of being persuasive.
Ms Gillard spent most of Canberra’s 100th birthday celebrations on the public holiday Monday ensconced in The Lodge meeting her leadership group, factional conveners, and parliamentary tacticians, ahead of what promises to be a difficult sitting fortnight.
Federal caucus meets on Tuesday before the resumption of sittings, with MPs reeling from the electoral drubbing in the Western Australia state election where Labor suffered a 2.2 per cent swing against it.
The Liberals gained nearly 9 per cent, returning Premier Colin Barnett in a landslide.
Momentum appears to be gathering within caucus for a late and extremely risky leadership change before the September election, reversing the removal of Mr Rudd in favour of his then deputy, Ms Gillard, in June 2010.
Estimates of support for the ousted leader differ, but it is widely acknowledged, even in the Gillard camp, that Mr Rudd has gained supporters as increasingly desperate Labor MPs face a likely humiliating loss in September. Gillard backers, however, scoff at claims that support for Mr Rudd now exceeds that for Ms Gillard.
The Rudd camp is determined not to repeat tactical errors committed in the first leadership ballot of February 2012 where Mr Rudd was goaded into challenging effectively while still overseas.
He lost that ballot decisively, 31 votes to 71, after a series of brutal character assessments by former cabinet colleagues.
Ms Gillard’s supporters say she is getting on with the job, insisting her meetings on Monday were simply routine tactical meetings and not connected to the internal leadership chatter.
WA’s most senior Labor figure, Defence Minister Stephen Smith, conceded on Saturday night Labor’s campaign was damaged by the low standing of federal Labor.
”We were a drag,” he said during the ABC’s election night coverage.
”I don’t think really, given the difficulties we are going through, that is a surprise.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.