Rudd vs Gillard: 9am tomorrow

And you thought a week was a long time in politics. Two hours after the first intimations of action, Kevin Rudd has announced he will face a leadership challenge from Julia Gillard at 9am tomorrow. Speaking at his press conference, Rudd invoked indigenous issues, the mining tax, pensions and climate change in a clear pitch to the party’s left, whom he called on to stand tough against the machinations of the Right faction heavies who have brought the situation to a head.

For my money, if the party room’s electoral prospects are what matters to it, there is little choice for it but to back Gillard. The warlords have moved against Rudd because they are brutally aware that it is he who is dragging them down in the polls and threatening their re-election prospects. In his absence, the government will be able to modify damaging policies as Rudd could not afford to, for fear of being called out over another “backflip”. Labor would also enter the election with a credible and certain story to tell about the next three years, the lack of which defeated Howard more than any single factor with only the possible exception of WorkChoices. Then there’s the feel-good factor of our first woman prime minister, which most voters recognise as overdue. Finally, I suggest that Glenn Milne’s thoughts last week on the dynamics of a Gillard-Abbott election battle would end up looking highly prescient after the event.

Over to you.

UPDATE: And with what great timing, we get the long-awaited quarterly cumulative Newspoll. This combines polls five from April to June, which successively had Labor’s party vote at 54, 49, 50, 51 and 52, allowing state and demographic results to be provided from a reasonable sample size. The state breakdowns show a surprisingly mild move against Labor in Western Australia, from 51-49 behind in January-March to 53-47 in April-June. While Labor has crashed seven points on the primary vote to 31 per cent, the dividend has gone entirely to Greens and “others”. If the result was uniform, Labor would hold its own on those numbers. The only other state with Labor trailing is Queensland, where Labor fell from 51-49 ahead to 52-48 behind. New South Wales and Victoria recorded little change with Labor leading 52-48 and 56-44, while their lead in South Australia dived from 55-45 to 51-49.

There was little sign of recent turmoil among voters over 50, among whom the Labor vote held steady on 37 per cent. It was a case of other age groups falling to that level: Labor fell five points to 39 per cent among 18-34s, and seven to 36 per cent and 35-49s. The Coalition primary vote was up three points among men to 43 per cent but steady on 39 per cent among women, who have instead sent votes lost to Labor to the Greens and others.

UPDATE 2 (Thursday morning): Not sure how much it’s worth now, but The Advertiser ran a poll this morning of 530 voters from the seat of Adelaide, where Labor holds a margin of 8.5 per cent but has been said to be in trouble. The poll doesn’t entirely bear this out: Labor’s primary vote was down 7 per cent from the election to 41 per cent, but the Liberals are also down from 37 per cent to 35 per cent – suggesting the undecided had not been distributed – and most of the dividend went to the Greens, up 6 per cent to 16 per cent. In two-party terms, Labor retained a handsome 57-43 lead.

UPDATE 3 (Thursday afternoon): Comments thread talk tells us Galaxy are in the field, suggesting we can expect the first poll of the new era either in the Sunday News Limited tabloids.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

2,812 comments on “Rudd vs Gillard: 9am tomorrow”

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  1. [enter the election with a credible and certain story to tell about the next three years]

    This and the fact people know Gillard from the last campaign and as acting PM and has earned respect and admiration in many quarters. And of coure they have seen constantly head to head with Abbott on tv morning shows.

    Gillard like Rudd, will have to deal with a continued frenzied and dishonest campaign from the ABC and right wing media. Cant be helped, those journalists are paid to be dishonest.

    IF Rudd wins tomorrow then will the party maintain discipline, or will the continue to undermine him until he has to resign. I think this is whats will happen from slimey tweebs like Arbib.

    I know Rudd must feel grossly cheated considering what he has achieved for the party, but there is no choice really for him. He can gain respect by standing strongly behind Gillard and offering to be on the front bench…etc. This will be a test of his true character, when in defeat.

  2. Provided she can deftly neutralise the RSPT debate, she should comfortably win the election.

    If not, things are much more uncertain.

  3. The Mining Tax gone and harsher laws on Asylum seekers coming up.
    The factional leaders have been told by Rudd that he governs for all Australians not just them and they do not like it.
    So the knifes are out. Pathetic
    A good government with a good record so we dump the leader- Paul Howes is a dickhead.
    Fair dinkum these people have lost the plot.

  4. [Diogenes, BoltA doesn’t adore Gillard, trust me.]

    He has written lots of nice articles about her. I’ll be interested to see if he changes his tune tomorrow when she’s the PM.

  5. @Johnny Button/24, The liberals had multiple leaders then settle on Abbott in one term (as opposition), how is it any different ?

  6. I don’t think we’ll see the likes of Psephos around here again… Finally he’ll actually have some work to do with Feeney’s promotion!

  7. perhaps it was Adam’s idea, if Rudd wins strongly (*coughs and prays*) then he smashes the ‘beholden to the unions’ and ‘factional clowns’ stories, the weak stories, he got his ETS position on the board (although he was too much of a PM to smash the greens when he should have smashed them) he got his i’m not running further to the right on the board, perhaps we are all just in a dream that Rupert Murdoch is having….

  8. [Glen, do you remember how you pleaded with the Labor Bludgers to give Howie one more term because he did not deserve to go?

    Well now I’m pleading with you. Please not Abbot, I will take Cossie anyday instead but not Abbott, pretty please ]

    I dont want an Abbott PMship as much as I dont want a Gillard one.

    Rudd is finished.

  9. I can see the reason why the message is not getting out their, the factional leaders have been counting numbers and back stabbing.

  10. [A good government with a good record so we dump the leader- Paul Howes is a dickhead.]

    Marky you’ve never provided such strong support for the Government in the past.

  11. Are we seriously expecting a lurch to the right when Gillard replaces Rudd? They approached her, not the other way around. She is not beholden to them.

  12. If only Costello stayed on.

    Oh dear 🙁

    I’d far rather a Costello PM than an Abbott one.

    Rudd is Gorton but Gorton had the deciding vote. Rudd will be trounced.

    Falkner and Feeney are Fraser and Snedden.

  13. [blue_green

    Do you know what? Ian Plimer, Lord Monckton and Cory Bernardi started all this.]

    I think you can give Minchin and Abbott most of the credit, along with the Greens, who must be marveling at their destructive powers. At the same time, I think Treasurer Swan – who came up with the zaniest tax idea anyone has ever seen – also deserves a pat on the back.

  14. [ If he does – I want to see the political dead strewn over Sussex St. A night of the long knives. ]

    Just let me know the time. I will be there with my kitchen implements.

  15. [Gillard trashes the mining tax?

    Is that the smart money?]

    Interesting point. Front page of today’s Fin Review had it being fundamentally re-jigged (as it should be). This was reported as fact. (Fin Review is pro-business but far more sensible than most MSM, generally speaking).

  16. I’ll make a prediction. Assuming Gillard beats Rudd, all it will take is one good Newspoll and every Labor supporter on this blog (including myself) will love her, and start writing revisionist critiques of Rudd.

    This stuff tonight is horrible, but a couple of good polls would make everything all right.

  17. [we’re toast]

    If we’re toast then the country’s toast. Abbott’s first decision as PM will be to back Bronwyn Bishop as Speaker. Won’t she just love that. Shorten will stand to ask a question of PM Abbott or raise a point of order and she’ll tell him to sit down or leave the chamber for one hour.

    Maybe then the penny will drop and he’ll realise what he help orchestrate.

  18. I predict a Gillard PM will run a very small target strategy.

    A cut down mining deal, pissy carbon tax by 2012

    And run a full-bore tony abbott scare campaign.

  19. [Who will be the new deputy???]

    Swan. Right faction leader, Queenslander, Minister who is generally considered to have done a good job, close (up to now) to Kevin.

  20. Has anyone heard if Gillard will stand for the leadership?? Very interesting dynamic possible if she choses n

    Excellent point.

    What if there was a leadership ballot and only Rudd turned up?

    This might be a way of putting the rumblings to rest, once and for all.

    “All those against?”


  21. Aguiree

    Disagree. Don’t like her. Know quite a few people who feel the same way and if she rolls Rudd she won’t endear herself.

  22. [He has written lots of nice articles about her. I’ll be interested to see if he changes his tune tomorrow when she’s the PM.]
    You can bet on it – probably being written now. Predictable lines of attack: disloyal deputy, can’t stay the course, panics after a few bad polls, volatile. They will pinn to Gillard all the bad vibes this challenge has generated. Gillard has got to distance herself from the plotters ASAP, explain that she didn’t organise this, and banish the factional chiefs, if posisble. Otherwise it sticks to her.

  23. [Are we seriously expecting a lurch to the right when Gillard replaces Rudd? They approached her, not the other way around. She is not beholden to them.]

    Gillare will be in a similar position as Rudd was before the last election if she gets a boost in the polls. She will hold the power and will call the shots, others will shut up as though know she is their only hope.

    Assuming Gillard wins of course. Is she a leader? Don’t know until they get the job. But the first thing to do is to win the election or at least see a Green Labor majority in the Senate.

  24. My read was that the govt ads would neutralise the mining tax issue, then labor would walk all over abbot in the campaign with the fruits (dirts?) of the tax…

    It seemed a simple and extremely likely to succeed strategy. Abbot is (was?) unelectable.

    Now? Unchartered waters…

    Praps the lure of Australia’s first female PM will bring the vote home (and I will win my “labour increases it’s majority” bets).

  25. Like others I am totally gobsmacked.

    The utter destructiveness of the timing is political suicide.

    William, I so hope you’re right that Julia can beat Abbott and beat him well. The very thought of that lunatic being in power makes me heartsick.

    While I am annoyed with Paul Howes, he is plugging the issues not the people.

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