In an extract from his new tell-all memoir published in The Australian, Kevin Rudd has revealed what really went on behind the scenes before his party won the 2007 Federal Election against John Howard, and while he speaks of he high regard he initially held for Julia Gillard, it isn’t all flattering.
Speaking of how they came to team up to take on leadership of the Labor party, Rudd said that Gillard had assured him she would give him two terms as opposition leader, and if her failed to win after those terms, she would “reserve her rights”.
“She then added a caveat that if I went backwards in the 2007 election, when measured against Latham’s result in 2004, she would also have to give some thought as to her next move,” Rudd wrote.
“Both propositions sounded reasonable to me. We shook hands on it.”
He outlined this agreement as the reason he was taken by surprise by the events of 2010.
“This agreement was one of the reasons I was taken by surprise during the events of June 2010, when Julia acted to ensure that not only would I not be given two terms as Labor leader, I would only be given one, and that would be as a Labor prime minister who had actually prevailed against the then invincible Howard. Such is the brutal nature of Australian politics played at its hardest.”
However, by his own account, he perhaps shouldn’t have been shocked, having previously been warned about Gillard by colleagues.
“Many of my supporters were deeply suspicious of Julia”, he wrote, “particularly those who had worked both with her and against her in Victoria, counselling me that she couldn’t be trusted.”
He cited Lindsay Tanner and Alan Griffin as particularly hostile, having worked with her in Victoria. Kim Beazley, then leader of the Labor party, also described Gillard as “toxic” and allegedly “flew into a rage” when Rudd told him he intended to challenge the leadership.
Despite this, Rudd does speak highly of Gillard’s professional attributes in the extract, explaining that he had “high hopes” for her career.
“I also wanted Julia to succeed and told her so,” he wrote.
“I wanted to see her become Australia’s first female prime minister and I was committed to ensuring a smooth transition in the future if we managed to cross the hurdle of winning government. I was 48, and she was several years younger than me.”