Sunday, December 03, 2006

Was I lied to?

In this morning's Sunday Canberra Times front page declares: Beazley 39, Rudd 45.

A fortnight ago I wrote the Sunday Canberra Times front page. For my story both Rudd (through a spokesman) and Gillard (to me in person) told me that they were NOT planning a challenge.

One quote:

Ms Gillard said suggestions she was angling to be the deputy leader in a Kevin Rudd "dream team" were "completely untrue".

I believed her at the time, and part of me still thinks she was telling the truth.

The fortnight-old story is below.

ALP figures deny threat to Beazley
By Peter Martin

Nov 20 2006

Key Labor Party figures are rallying behind Opposition Leader Kim Beazley, angrily denying reports that they were part of a move to force him to resign to make way for foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd.

Frontbenchers Anthony Albanese, Simon Crean and Julia Gillard, and Labor's national secretary, Tim Gartrell, all named as moving against Mr Beazley, say they are working with him to help Labor win the election due in 12 months' time.

Mr Albanese, the party's environment spokesman, said he had returned from a climate change conference in Nairobi to read in The Australian newspaper that Mr Beazley's leadership was in the balance.

“They've been writing this forever. The Australian is sure that a challenge to Kim Beazley exists, but is sure that climate change doesn't,” he said.

Former Labor leader Simon Crean, named in the Sunday Age as working with health spokeswoman Julia Gillard to undermine Mr Beazley, said “to suggest that I have been undermining him is an outrageous slur, it's just not true”.

Ms Gillard said suggestions she was angling to be the deputy leader in a Kevin Rudd “dream team” were “completely untrue”. “But the whole problem is that people make up these things and you get asked questions,” she said.

Mr Gartrell was reported to have said privately that Mr Beazley could not win the next election based on his current performance. But he said yesterday that he believed that Mr Beazley would win the next election, “so long as we focus on the main game”. Asked whether he thought that Labor was doing that he replied, “on the whole, yes”.

A senior Labor source has told The Canberra Times that none of the party's key backers are pushing for a challenge.

“The Shoppies union, the Metalworkers, the AWU, people like [ACTU secretary] Greg Combet, everyone's basically saying get on with the job.”

The source said, “I've been through leadership challenges. I know how the pattern works. The calls begin, the lists get drawn up, people get canvassed. None of this is happening.”

The Member for Fraser in the ACT, Bob McMullan, indicated that he might support a Mr Rudd challenge should one be mounted.

“I expect Kevin Rudd to lead the party one day and I expect he would be good at it, and I made no secret when Mark Latham left the leadership of the Labor Party that I thought we should have had Kevin Rudd then,” he said. “At the moment I don't see any prospect of having a change quickly, but who knows.”

Asked about Labor's electoral prospects should Mr Beazley remain as leader, Mr McMullan replied, “At the moment I think we're not the favourites to win, but it's possible.”

Mr Rudd is in China. His spokesman said he was unavailable for comment but noted that China was an unlikely place from which to launch a leadership challenge.