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Laurie Ferguson: Rudd must go -

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MARK COLVIN: Another Labor MP has called on the former prime minister Kevin Rudd to resign from the Parliament.

Mr Rudd won his Queensland seat of Griffith at the weekend, but his future remains unclear.

The former minister Brendan O'Connor has called on Mr Rudd to step aside from politics and the Labor caucus will meet on Friday to discuss leadership matters.

The two most likely candidates for the Labor leadership remain Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese.

The western Sydney Labor MP Laurie Ferguson says that for the good of the party Kevin Rudd must go.

He spoke to Samantha Hawley.

LAURIE FERGUSON: Oh look, I think he should find a pressing need to do some research on Nauruan politics since the 1990s, or Qing dynasty porcelain or something like that, quite frankly. He should find an urgent need to go into a research area.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: So you want him to leave the Parliament, obviously?

LAURIE FERGUSON: Look, absolutely. Look, we've had Beazley, Latham, Crean, Gillard, all undermined by him over a significant period of time, and he might lay off for a year or two but we get back to the same pattern whoever becomes leader, and it just can't be tolerated.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: So if he decides not to go, what do you think that will mean for the Labor Party?

LAURIE FERGUSON: Oh, I think it'll mean there's further destabilisation; I think it'll mean leaking to media; the same pattern that's been there for so long.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: But he has won his seat of Griffith. Would he not be letting the voters down, or the constituents in his own electorate?

LAURIE FERGUSON: Look, I think other prime ministers have made the decision. People who were very loyal to their party didn't hang around having been prime minister of the country.

In this case, I really don't think we can afford destabilisation. We've had a pretty poor election outcome, the number of seats we've obtained, and we just really cannot afford any further division over this matter.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: On Saturday night, of course, he did say that people won't see him for a while - that is, Kevin Rudd. Some people did read that to mean that he might be back, but do you really think that he'd ever make another pitch for the leadership?

LAURIE FERGUSON: Oh look, his ability to destabilise leadership is pronounced. He's been very successful over a significant period of time, the number of leaders that have suffered this. You'd have to say he's got a pretty good track record quite frankly, and I just don't think we can have it.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Do you acknowledge though, at all, that he improved Labor's stakes at this election?

LAURIE FERGUSON: Well, we've got to see it in the context of the destabilisation and treachery before the 2010 elections. Labor should not have been a minority government; Labor should not have been put in a situation where it had to debate in public who was responsible for policies, us or The Greens; shouldn't have had to negotiate over bills every day of the week, and shouldn't have had the further destabilisations.

So look, you know, having put the party in that circumstance, oh yes he might have retrieved something, but big deal.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Do you think though that you would have held on to your seat, for instance, if it wasn't for him returning to the leadership?

LAURIE FERGUSON: I absolutely do, quite frankly. I think my seat was won on the basis of on-the-ground work, ethnic community contact, and efficient electoral office, and I think that if Julia even in the campaign period had not had to endure his kind of undermining, we still would have went quite well, quite frankly.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: I guess also what I'm asking though is does the party owe him anything given that he returned to the leadership and Labor fared better than was predicted under Julia Gillard? Under Julia Gillard, the party would have been wiped out completely.

LAURIE FERGUSON: Look, the party owes Kevin the 2007 election outcome against John Howard who was seen as basically having been there too long and was a lame duck. It does not owe him anything in this last election campaign as far as I'm concerned. Other people might think differently.

I don't think he did us a big favour after the destabilisation of Julia to say, "I'll take the leadership back, thank you very much, and I'll save youse from where I put you".

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Alright, at this stage of course, on the leadership issue, there seems to be two main contenders - Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese. Do you think it's best for the party that just one of them puts up their hand? That is, they sort it out between themselves and one of them puts their hand up?

LAURIE FERGUSON: Look, it depends on the context, it depends on the imagery. If they were both intent upon leading, and it was seen to be a backroom deal to fix, then that's not a good outcome, but if it was seen as overwhelming support in the party for one of these two candidates, then there'd be nothing wrong with not having a ballot.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: And do you have a preference of how it should go?


SAMANTHA HAWLEY: And why is that?

LAURIE FERGUSON: In the absence of Plibersek and Burke, who I thought would also be quite capable. I think Shorten has the mettle. I think his performance on disability, when he actually got an issue out of left field that was basically ignored for decades, put it in the mainstream political dimension of this country - good accomplishment and he's a capable minister.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: He also comes with baggage though, doesn't he? He was responsible for the downfall, or linked I guess rather, to the downfall of two prime ministers.

LAURIE FERGUSON: Well, I've seen a lot of people involved in this fracas. With the exception of Plibersek, amongst all the people mentioned I don't think there's anyone who hasn't been involved.

MARK COLVIN: Returned Labor MP Laurie Ferguson speaking to Samantha Hawley.