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Uhlmann's take on Labor's leadership crisis -

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Uhlmann's take on Labor's leadership crisis

Broadcast: 23/06/2010

Reporter: Tony Jones

Senior online political correspondent Chris Uhlmann discusses the position Kevin Rudd has found
himself in.


TONY JONES, PRESENTER: As you just heard, tomorrow will decide the fate of Kevin Rudd. Right wing
factions of the Labor Party in all States have backed Julia Gillard to overthrow Kevin Rudd as
Prime Minister.

They've been joined by the right wing Australian Workers Par..., Australian Worker's Union I should
say, and shortly we'll talk to the AWU National Secretary, Paul Howes to explain why Kevin Rudd
lost his support and the support of his Union.

And we'll also cross later to Morocco to talk to the Minister for Environment Protection Peter
Garrett about the leadership challenge, plus a breakdown of today's stories at the International
Whaling Commission.

That's all coming up. First we're gonna be joined by the ABC's online senior political
correspondent, Chris Uhlmann, and Chris, take us through it again if you can and how on earth did
this happen so quickly?

shocked Tony. There are ministers sitting in their offices this evening watching television,
watching this unfold and saying they are in a state of utter bewilderment.

If we rewind perhaps back about three weeks an emissary was sent, apparently, from the New South
Wales right, that's Mark Arbib, to David Feeney, who's the head really, one of the factional
heavyweights, in the Victorian right and they began to discuss the possibility of a future after
Kevin Rudd.

Both of those men went this morning to see Julia Gillard. They returned at noon. At noon they said
that they could deliver her the majority support of the New South Wales right, the Victorian right,
the South Australian right, the West Australian right and the Queensland right. They said that they
did not believe Kevin Rudd could win the next election and that Julia Gillard could. If there was a
change of leadership they could go forward strongly from here.

She has been a reluctant recruit to this, but she, we are told, also is of the belief that Kevin
Rudd can't win the next election and at this stage people are saying, without even picking up the
phone, Julia Gillard's got the numbers. The Prime Minister says he got to work, some work to do,
he'll be on the phones. It will be fascinating to see how he goes. It might be the last of his long
nights as Prime Minister.

TONY JONES: Well he's stressed, just a few minutes ago in his press conference, that he was voted
in as Prime Minister by the people of Australia, he didn't talk about his own Party, by the people
of Australia. His appeal, presumably, will be to the Party though and that's the big problem he has
isn't it?

CHRIS UHLMANN: Well that's the point that he's made. He was voted in by the people of Australia and
for a very long time the people of Australia thought that he was a magnificent leader but that all
began to come undone in April. And really it was around about the time that he ditched the
Emissions Trading System that that came undone. That was a breach of faith with the Australian
people. People saw it as an abandonment of values.

But what we're hearing most of all about those that run the factions in the Party is that they are
utterly fed up with the way Kevin runs the Party and what one of them said is:

"This crypto fascist never bothered to build a base in the Party and now that his only faction,
Newspoll, has gone, so has he."

TONY JONES: You talked about the right wing factions, of course Julia Gillard came from the left,
and we don't know exactly what's happened with her original faction. We certainly don't know what
major left wing figures like Lindsay Tanner have done in all of this. What's the story and what
happened in those critical meetings as far we know, in the Prime Minister's office.

CHRIS UHLMANN: As far we know Anthony Albanese is on the side of the left, New South Wales left,
that is supporting Kevin Rudd. The way that we're hearing the vote would fall at the moment is that
the Prime Minister could expect only half of the left and perhaps 40 per cent of the right. Not
nearly enough to get him, and as they said that's without Julia Gillard even picking up the phone.

It's extraordinarily difficult to see how the Prime Minister can walk back from here. He is
essentially being rejected by his own Party and these are unprecedented things and we have to go
back to John Gorton in 1969, where Gorton essentially voted against himself in a Party room ballot,
but don't forget Gorton did win, he came in after Holt, he won an election so he was in his second
term. You have to go a long way back in the history books to find anything like this, if at all.

TONY JONES: So Chris, it is your bet, clearly, that tomorrow we will see Australia's first female
Prime Minister. How will that process take place, assuming that you're right about the numbers?

CHRIS UHLMANN: The way that it works is that there'll be a caucus meeting tomorrow, the leadership
will be spilled, I'm not entirely sure of all the details of how that process will work, but there
will be a ballot. There'll be a ballot between only two contenders, those contenders will be Kevin
Rudd and Julia Gillard and as it stacks up at the moment there's no reason to believe that the
people who went to see her, to tap her on the shoulder, to get to go and tap him on the shoulder,
are wrong about the numbers.

It's fascinating too, of course the Prime Minister's made much of the fact that he's elected by the
people of Australia and he said when he came in that the factional warlords were no longer going to
rule this Party. Well they've hit back and they've hit back hard now.

TONY JONES: Well Chris stick around we may have to come back to you if there are any further
developments during the course of our program. We thank you very much for that.