Morning Report – Monday, 20 February 2012

Good morning readers, and welcome to Monday, 20 February 2012.

It was on this day in 1992 that former Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, officially tendered his resignation for the Victorian seat of Wills. In his final speech to Parliament in late 1991, Hawke said –

“Democracy is not something that just happens. It is something which has to be striven for. But, just as importantly as the striving for its achievement, very much we know that it has to be fought for to be maintained. We know, and I think we are proud of the fact, that in the striving to secure and to maintain democracy, the Parliament has a pivotal and foundational role. That is a privilege for us who are part of it. It is also an enormous responsibility.”

The pursuing by-election prompted the largest amount of candidates for a seat in any election (22). The by-election was won by independent candidate Phil Cleary whose election was declared void by the High Court on the grounds that, as a teacher employed by the Victorian government, he held an office of profit under the Crown at the time he nominated. No second by-election was held due to the imminence of the 1993 elections.

Federal Politics

ALP Leadership

The Numbers: How ALP MPs are falling | Source: The Australian

It seems almost destined now that there will be a ballot on the ALP leadership before the fortnight is out, with open warfare beginning to play out in the media. This morning, former leader, and current minister, Simon Crean, told ABC Radio –

“If Kevin Rudd can’t be part of the team, let him exit the team, if he thinks he’s got the numbers, let him challenge.”

“Kevin hasn’t got the numbers to challenge. He’s well short of anywhere near a majority. He can’t win.”

If the numbers shown in The Australian are anything to go by, then the over the weekend, Ms Gillard’s position has been strengthened with several MPs moving from the Rudd to Gillard column, no doubt at their own request.

ABC News

Simon Crean branded Kevin Rudd “internally disloyal” and told him to “put up or shut up” in a scathing attack delivered as Labor’s leadership showdown heated up this morning.

Labor’s leadership crisis appears to be near breaking point with supporters on both sides telling the ABC the brawl could be resolved as early as this time next week.

The Labor caucus is due to meet on Tuesday February 28 unless a special meeting is called to put the party leadership, and therefore the prime ministership, to a vote.

Talking on ABC Local Radio in Melbourne, Mr Crean said Mr Rudd was “well short” of a majority of caucus votes and dared him to launch a challenge for Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s job.

The Australian

CABINET minister Simon Crean has accused Kevin Rudd of disloyalty and urged an “assertion of leadership” by Julia Gillard to address Labor’s leadership crisis.

The loyal Gillard supporter said the Prime Minister should have a frank discussion with Mr Rudd, who he said should “exit the team” or bring on a challenge.

“He is not playing as part of the team,” Mr Crean told ABC Radio.

“He’s clearly been disloyal internally. I know he’s been talking to other people.”

Mr Crean said the time had come for the Prime Minister and her rival to resolve the issue.

He said Mr Rudd should “put up or shut up”.

“I think what’s got to happen is the Prime Minister has to have a discussion with him. The conversation should be if he can’t be part of the team he should exit the team.

The Age

If Kevin Rudd can’t be a team player he should quit to the back bench and Julia Gillard should confront him over it, says senior minister Simon Crean.

If the Foreign Minister thought he had the numbers to topple Ms Gillard as prime minister he would launch a challenge, Mr Crean says.

‘‘(But) he hasn’t and he won’t,’’ he told ABC Radio.

‘‘What’s got to happen is the prime minister has got to have the discussion with him.

‘‘After all, he’s foreign minister because of a discussion they (Ms Gillard and Mr Rudd) had during the last election campaign.’’

Speaking as Labor’s leadership tensions look set to come to a head, Mr Crean said he didn’t know the details of that discussion but it was along the lines of, ‘‘I will have you in a senior position in my team but you have got to be part of my team’’.

The regional development minister said Mr Rudd was ‘‘clearly not playing as part of the team’’ and therefore Ms Gillard should confront him and have a conversation.

The West Australian

Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd will face off in a leadership battle as early as next week after supporters from both camps conceded a showdown was now unavoidable.

Backers of the Prime Minister and her predecessor concede that the leadership tension between the two has become so destabilising that it is affecting the operation of Government.

Ms Gillard thinks she would win a leadership ballot, perhaps as early as next Monday, but it may not be enough to halt the momentum of the Foreign Affairs Minister.

Mr Rudd is understood to believe he could resign to the backbench and challenge again later in the year in what would be a repeat of Paul Keating’s two-step challenge against Bob Hawke.

Mr Rudd’s hand was strengthened at the weekend after a video of the then prime minister swearing and ranting at staff was anonymously uploaded to the YouTube website.