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Beazley throws his hat into leadership ring -

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Beazley throws his hat into leadership ring


MAXINE McKEW: Shortly after Mark Latham made that emotional exit, over in Perth, former leader Kim
Beazley called a press conference to announce that he was putting himself forward as a candidate in
a caucus ballot to be held on Friday week in Canberra. It will be the third time that the West
Australian has recontested the Labor leadership since his departure from the job after the failed
2001 campaign. But Kim Beazley may not have the field all to himself. The 7.30 Report has been told
that Queenslander Kevin Rudd has stronger support than he's given credit for. Then there's
Victorian left-winger Lindsay Tanner, who's also assessing his chances. But so far, Kim Beazley is
the only publicly declared candidate. Today, he turned down all interview requests, but here are
some excerpts of what he had to say at his press conference this afternoon.

KIM BEAZLEY (LABOR BACKBENCHER): I've seen Mark Latham's statement and I'm deeply saddened by it. I
think it's a matter of great sadness for the Labor Party and the Australian people that he has not
had a chance to properly put before the Australian people the best that he could provide them in
leadership for the party and the country. He's a bloke with considerable ability, great talent, and
it is a shame that his health has meant that he has not been able to do that. But that's in the
past. What we now need to do is to look to the future.

I did not think these circumstances would arise, and in all honesty, I thought that, for me, all
that was left in politics was to operate in a way which supported the election ultimately of a
Latham Labor Government. When I made comments some time ago about whether or not I had much of a
political future, it was made entirely in that context.

Obviously, a lot of people have talked to me about our situation over the last few days, and I've
been encouraged by many who did not vote for me in those tumultuous ballots a year or so ago, and
I've been encouraged by their support for me and their desire that I should run. It's not really
surprising. There is in the Labor Party a very deep desire for unity, for stability and for
experience to be presented to the Australian people, and I can bring that with energy and

I'm not motivated particularly personally for high office, although that is important to me, and
it's important motivation in my running. I am absolutely fired with ambition for the Australian
people, our nation, and for the Australian Labor Party.

I've learned a lot from my time on the back bench. I've learned anew the value of my colleagues.
I've not changed my ideas or principles, but I have changed my approach. This is a government that
has to be rigorously kept to account. There has been some talk around the place about two-term
strategies. That's politics 1-0 stuff. Forget it. We need a strategy to win the next election, and
the public interest demands that we are the sort of political party that can win that election and
that they can trust with office, and one of the points that have been made to me consistently by my
colleagues is that we need, in leadership, a great deal of experience with the proven support of
the Australian people.

Our disagreements with this government are profound. We believe that you can have, simultaneously,
a strong economy in equality of opportunity for all Australians. We believe that in an age of
terror, you can provide for security of the nation but, at the same time, provide a sense of
security around the kitchen table when people sit down to consider the health needs of their
families, the educational needs of their families, the environment in which they live. You can do
both things. You can provide for the security of your people physically and you can provide for the
security of your people in all those needs that make for a happy and decent life.

The road to the prime ministership of this nation is a long and hard road. It's not an easy one,
and there are many twists and turns on that road, and I'm in my 25th year as a member of the
Federal Parliament, and I know this: that public opinion is volatile and can change. I fought two
elections in the most difficult of circumstances: one after we'd suffered a massive defeat, and the
other in the environment of September 11, and we won the majority of the votes in the first and it
was very close in the second. I do feel that if you look back over that record, then you look at
the views that have been expressed through public opinion polls and the like, and more important
than that, the views that are expressed to me directly by many of the people I've had a chance as a
backbench member to meet over the course of the last three years, there's no doubt in my mind that
I can lead a winning team at the next election.

MAXINE McKEW: Kim Beazley wasn't the only senior figure, by the way, refusing interview requests
today. It seems that all of the major players have gone to ground tonight. But one way or another,
it will all be settled in 10 days' time, on Friday 28 January. Now, that only leaves the matter of
a by-election in Mark Latham's Sydney seat of Werriwa - not something the Labor Party will welcome.
On a 9 per cent margin, keep in mind that the much safer seat of Cunningham was lost in a
by-election when Steve Martin cut short his parliamentary term after the 2001 election.