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Emerson: Rudd must leave the parliament -

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MARK COLVIN: Senior Labor figures are divided over whether Kevin Rudd should leave the parliament entirely as the Labor caucus considers who will be its next leader.

Craig Emerson is the latest former Labor minister call for him to leave, and so far the most vocal.

In an interview for 7.30 tonight he describes the former prime minister as willingly and recklessly destabilising of leaders.

But not all Labor MPs agree.

Lexi Metherell reports.

LEXI METHERELL: On election night the former Labor ministers Stephen Smith and Greg Combet said it would be best if Kevin Rudd leaves the parliament entirely.

Another former minister agrees.

CRAIG EMERSON: Kevin Rudd's continuing presence in the parliamentary Labor Party will see him do what he has always done, and that is willingly, wilfully, recklessly, destabilise Labor leaders.

LEXI METHERELL: Craig Emerson is a close friend of Kevin Rudd's predecessor Julia Gillard.

He's spoken to 7.30.

CRAIG EMERSON: It is in the best interests of the party for Kevin Rudd to leave the parliament.

GRAHAM PERRETT: I love Craig, he's the next door electorate to me, but I 100 per cent disagree with him on this.

LEXI METHERELL: The Labor MP Graham Perrett, who credits Kevin Rudd for averting a near loss for him in his Brisbane seat of Moreton.

GRAHAM PERRETT: Kevin Rudd should have a fantastic role in terms of guiding policy. He's a wise head, he's a great campaigner, he knows a lot about opposition. He also will be a fantastic member for Griffith, with time on his hands, and be able to make sure that's another safe Labor seat.

LEXI METHERELL: Labor Senator Doug Cameron agrees it's up to Kevin Rudd what he does now.

DOUG CAMERON: I don't know why Craig Emerson didn't say that when he was asking Kevin Rudd to put him in a ministerial position when Kevin Rudd was the PM.

Look, I just think we've got to get past all this nonsense. We need stability in the party. We need a strong leader. And we need someone that can turn the position around in the electorate so that we are the next government in Australia after one term of a Tony Abbott prime ministership.

LEXI METHERELL: And can you have that stability in the party that you crave while Kevin Rudd is still in the Parliament?

DOUG CAMERON: Well of course you can. I mean Kevin Rudd is a backbench member now, from Queensland. He has been a former prime minister on two occasions. He is entitled to take a decision that he will serve the members of his electorate. And if that's the decision he takes, I fully support that.

LEXI METHERELL: Kevin Rudd himself has remained silent since Saturday night. But his key political adviser, Bruce Hawker, hasn't. He's spent the day defending his handling of the campaign.

In response to questions over internal campaign division he says there were daily phone hook ups between the headquarters in Melbourne and the travelling team he was part of.

BRUCE HAWKER: I think there are some people inside campaign headquarters who really are talking out of school and putting a spin on things in order to avoid taking some responsibility for it. I think that's a shame.

LEXI METHERELL: As caucus regroups from Saturday's loss, MPs are turning their minds to who should next lead them.

Anthony Albanese is acting Labor leader. He and Bill Shorten are considered the frontrunners for the leadership.

Doug Cameron.

DOUG CAMERON: They are both excellent candidates for the leadership. I think they both bring strength to that role. It's a matter for the caucus, and the caucus, if they get 20 per cent nomination from the caucus and there's two of them, then it's a rank and file ballot. It's about democracy in the party.

LEXI METHERELL: The former treasurer Chris Bowen has ruled himself out of contention, but he is interested in being the Opposition's treasury spokesman.

CHRIS BOWEN: I think if there are two candidates, then clearly it must go to a vote of the full party membership. We've adopted that rule, it's an important rule. I believe in party reform and I believe in serious party reform, and that is the most serious of them.

If there's only one candidate, that doesn't indicate anything other than the fact that there's a consensus emerged, and that is not a bad thing necessarily if and of itself.

LEXI METHERELL: If there is more than one contender it could be a month before Labor has a new leader. It's likely to be a few days yet before caucus meets for the first time. Nominations for the leadership will then be open for seven days.

Under the new rules instituted by Kevin Rudd, rank and file members will then have 14 days to vote. They'll have 50 per cent of the vote and caucus will have the other 50 per cent.

Graham Perrett.

GRAHAM PERRETT: This time three years ago we had 17 days where we didn't know who the prime minister was, so no problem with a bit of delay.

LEXI METHERELL: Do you think that the caucus should try to come to some sort of consensus position so it doesn't have to go to a vote?

GRAHAM PERRETT: I control one vote in caucus and that's mine. I think the caucus can make up its own mind, and we will.

LEXI METHERELL: And there may be more movement in the Labor caucus. There's speculation that if Bob Carr decides to resign from the Senate, the national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, Paul Howes, is in a strong position to take his New South Wales seat.

MARK COLVIN: Lexi Metherell. And you can see that Craig Emerson interview on 7.30 on ABC 1 tonight.