Rudd resigns as Foreign Minister
Kevin Rudd has made a dramatic announcement in Washington DC that he is standing down as the Australian Foreign Minister.
Rudd has had a difficult relationship with Prime Minister Julia Gillard ever since she challenged him for, and won, the party leadership in 2010. In recent weeks there have been increasingly stressed relations with, what would appear to have been, lobbying against Rudd within the Cabinet. It is believed that Prime Minister Gillard was about to sack Rudd as Foreign Minister for disloyalty.
In his statement Kevin Rudd said that “Minister Crean (Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government Minister for the Arts) and a number of other faceless men have publicly attacked my integrity and therefore my fitness to serve as a minister in the government”.
He continued “When challenged today on these attacks, Prime Minister Gillard chose not to repudiate them. I can only reluctantly conclude that she therefore shares these views”.
The Foreign Minister then went on to say that “The simple truth is that I cannot continue to serve as Foreign Minister if I don’t have the Prime Minister’s support”.
There has been considerable rumour in recent times that Rudd was planning to challenge Gillard for the Australian Labor Party (ALP) leadership. His sudden resignation may spark off such a challenge when he returns to Australia on Friday. He is expected to have at least 40 to 45 members of the 103 member parliamentary caucus on his side (There are 72 House of representative members and 31 Senate members).
Should Rudd fail in his leadership challenge then there is always the possibility that he will resign his seat and force a by-election. With Gillard’s government currently holding no majority in the House of Representatives (the lower house) such a move could lead to the fall of the government and an early general election.
Whatever happens Julia Rudd is likely to have an uncomfortable time with Kevin Rudd on the backbenches and a possible election prior to the 30th November 2013 deadline.