Kevin Rudd must be the most insensitive man in the country. After resigning his leadership of the Labor Party on Saturday night, to the horror of his colleagues, he's going to sit on the back benches for three years.
Dr Craig Emerson
Former front bencher Dr Craig Emerson was so angry when Julia Gillard was removed as leader and Rudd was returned just weeks before the election in June, he quit parliament in disgust. On Monday night's 7.30 on the ABC, he said out loud what most Labor MPs have been thinking for years - that Kevin Rudd committed "treachery" against Julia Gillard by deliberately leaking damaging information to the media. He said:
Kevin Rudd destabilised by making claims about Julia Gillard's attitude towards the aged pension, towards paid parental leave. All of this had the effect of depressing the Labor vote during the 2010 election to the point where we were plunged into minority government. Anyone who does that, who is hell-bent on revenge, who is so destructive, as to depress the Labor vote in the 2010 election shouldn't be rewarded for that sort of behaviour. He came back as Prime Minister, the election was a disaster for Labor and Kevin Rudd's continuing presence in the Parliamentary Labor Party will see him do what he has always done and that is to willingly, recklessly, destabalise Labor leaders. It is in the best interests of the party for Kevin Rudd to leave Parliament.
It's always been about Kevin, it hasn't been about the Parliamentary Labor Party, it hasn't been about Labor values, it's always been about Kevin - always has been, always will be, and as a consequence, the new Opposition leader will be destabalised by Kevin Rudd remaining in Parliament.
Federal MP Laurie Ferguson agrees. He thinks Kevin Rudd should move on and find something else to do when he said:
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. We've had Beazley, Latham, Crean and Gillard all undermined by him over a significant period of time. He might lay off for a year or two but if we get back to the same pattern with whoever becomes leader, it just can't be tolerated.
But there's another side to the story. Kevin Rudd's supporters say they owe him a "debt of gratitude" for giving them their jobs back. They firmly believe that with Julia Gillard as leader, they were all going over a cliff together, but when Rudd was returned, he saved Labor from a complete wipe-out. So he thinks he has every right to stay on.
Julia Gillard's most faithful supporter, Bill Shorten
Now comes the time for Labor to choose a new leader and there are two likely contenders, Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese. Bill Shorten is the man who rolled Kevin Rudd and replaced him with Julia Gillard. He's also the man who promised her his support right up until half an hour before the ballot that threw her out and put Rudd back in.
Anthony Albanese stole lines from an American TV show to make his point in one of his speeches to the National Press Club. He said Australia "has serious challenges to solve and we need serious people to solve them. Unfortunately Tony Abbott is not the least bit interested in fixing anything. He is only interested in two things: making Australians afraid of it, and telling them who's to blame."
Twitter was right onto it and came down on him like a ton of bricks and he had to admit he had "stuffed up." Michael Douglas in the American President said "We have serious problems to solve and we need serious people to solve them and whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame."
If these two candidates for the position of Opposition Leader are the best Labor can come up with, the country is in serious trouble.