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Hawker blames HQ for campaign blunder as Labo -

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ELEANOR HALL: As the positioning begins within the Federal Labor Party over the selection of a new leader, recriminations are flying over the management of the campaign.

Kevin Rudd's chief political adviser, Bruce Hawker, is blaming Labor's campaign headquarters for making one of the most serious missteps of the campaign: the $10 billion black hole accusation which backfired.

And Mr Rudd is coming under pressure from some former senior Labor figures to resign from Parliament completely.

In Canberra, Lexi Metherell reports.

LEXI METHERELL: During the campaign, Labor was dogged by reports of disunity between Labor's campaign headquarters and Kevin Rudd's travelling party. Now those reports are coming to the fore.

Kevin Rudd's chief political adviser Bruce Hawker has blamed campaign headquarters for Labor's costings saga.

BRUCE HAWKER: There was a really bad problem for us, Michael, no doubt about that. Campaign headquarters put together that research and…

REPORTER: So it wasn't Kevin Rudd, it was campaign headquarters?


LEXI METHERELL: In the second last week of the campaign, Labor released work by government departments saying it showed a $10 billion black hole in the Coalition's costings. That same afternoon, the departments responsible distanced themselves from the claim.

Bruce Hawker concedes it was a disaster.

BRUCE HAWKER: So we went out and had that press conference and it looked pretty good for a while, but as soon as those public servants came out and basically distanced themselves from that story and those claims, it became very difficult for us for about three or four days to punch through any message at all.

It was a difficulty we had to deal with.

ROD CAMERON: I have to disagree with Bruce Hawker. It was an appalling campaign. It was probably the worst central campaign that Labor has ever run.

LEXI METHERELL: The former Labor strategist Rod Cameron blames Kevin Rudd for the management of the campaign.

ROD CAMERON: What we got was a turgid and uninspiring grab bag of stunts and ill-conceived policies on the run. There was no strategy. It was all tactics, there was no central theme. Just an assortment of contradictory thought balloons. And I thought this was an appalling central campaign.

LEXI METHERELL: After grim predictions for the former Treasurer Wayne Swan, it appears he will hold on to his Brisbane seat of Lilley. He, like others, blames Labor infighting for the loss.

WAYNE SWAN: The disunity of the past four years was the dominant factor in the minds of people who had previously voted Labor and didn't vote Labor on the weekend. They marked us down for that. They marked us pretty hard for that. And that gives us, now, the task of rebuilding, of going back to basics, of having a mature conversation about what went wrong.

LEXI METHERELL: Former senior Labor ministers Stephen Smith and Greg Combet have called on Kevin Rudd to quit Parliament entirely for the sake of Labor's next generation.

So far, Kevin Rudd's only said he won't recontest the Labor leadership. Labor Senator Penny Wong says it's his call what he does now.

PENNY WONG: Particularly as the former leader he is entitled to make those decisions considering the best interests of the party, and that's where I'd leave it. My view about that is I think ultimately Kevin has to make those decisions.

LEXI METHERELL: The former treasurer Chris Bowen agrees it's up to Mr Rudd to decide his future.

Mr Bowen, along with the former deputy prime minister Anthony Albanese and the workplace relations minister Bill Shorten has been seen as a possible future Labor leader.

Mr Bowen says he won't run for the leadership this time around, but he is putting himself forward to be the Opposition's treasury spokesman, and he hasn't ruled out running for the deputy leadership

CHRIS BOWEN: I think the Labor Party's blessed with a talented team. I think obviously there's been no mention... there's potential candidates as well as mine, and I think all of those, all of those potential candidates are people of great talent and ability and they, I know, are going through the same process that I've gone through over the last 24 hours to consider their options. And they'll make their own plans known in their own good time.

LEXI METHERELL: Wayne Swan says he won't be contesting the leadership.

WAYNE SWAN: I think I've got a fair bit to contribute to the national debate, particularly about the opportunities and challenges that we've got before us in terms of the Asian century and how we can have prosperity into the future. And I think I can more effectively do that if I don't have a frontbench position.

I can say some things that I want to say from the viewpoint of my six years of experience - that perhaps if, when you're in a leadership position or frontbench position, you can't say. So I want the freedom to contribute constructively to a national debate about our future economic prospects and social outcomes. And I want to do that with a degree of energy.

LEXI METHERELL: One of Kevin Rudd's nicknames has been Kevin 24/7. Labor MP Kelvin Thomson has some advice for the next Labor leader.

KELVIN THOMSON: Do less. Don't try and swamp the airwaves. Don't fall for the 24/7 media cycle. Don't dominate the airwaves at the expense of ministers and shadow ministers, members of parliament, and other voices. Take the time to get policies right. We don't need to do more. We don't need to announce more. What we do need to do is get the things that we have announced right.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Labor MP Kelvin Thompson ending Lexi Metherell's report.