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Julia Gillard calls leadership vote in Australia

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said a ballot is needed in order to settle the leadership question “once and for all”.

Gillard has a fight on her hands following fighting words from Rudd.
Gillard has a fight on her hands following fighting words from Rudd.
Image: Rick Rycroft/AP/Press Association Images

FOLLOWING WEEKS OF disputes and haranguing by fellow Labor Party member – and predecessor – Kevin Rudd, Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called for a leadership ballot.

She hopes to protect her job in the vote on her leadership next Monday on the back of public criticism from the man she ousted just two years ago.

Announcing the ballot at a press conference in Adelaide this morning, Gillard said she made the decision following Rudd’s resignation.

I have formed this view that we need a leadership ballot in order to settle this question once and for all.

She added that it is in both the interests of the party, as well as the nation to determine the leadership issue.

Rudd, who had been foreign minister, quit the cabinet following a public protest at Gillard’s performance. She only took over from Rudd  – who is popular nationally, but despised within the party – in June 2010 but he now seems likely to seek a return.

Gillard said she was disappointed that Rudd expressed his concerns publicly before raising them with her privately. She also made it clear that he did not discuss his intention to resign with her prior to his public statement.

Rudd resigned while on duty in Washington DC, bringing domestic politics onto an international scene. He said he had no option but to leave the front bench after attacks from senior colleagues.

Going out with fighting words, Gillard’s predecessor made it clear she would have a fight on her hands. Echoing her words of 2010, he told reporters in the US capital that he thinks Labor will lose next year’s elections if Gillard remains leader.

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Monday’s ballot could either quash any question of a Rudd comeback or place the party in severe difficulty as it tries to hold onto its single-seat majority in the house of representatives.

Gillard said she will abandon her leadership ambitions if Labor lawmakers choose Rudd over her Monday, and she called on Rudd to do the same if he loses.

-Additional reporting by AP

More: Former premier Kevin Rudd quits Australian cabinet amid growing rift>

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