20 Feb 2012

Australian Labor Party tension amid talk of challenge to leader

6:04 am on 20 February 2012

There is growing talk in Australia of a push to reinstall Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister.

Federal Independent MP Andrew Wilkie says he is convinced there will be a leadership challenge within Labor while another MP, Darren Cheesman, has said publicly Julia Gillard should stand down.

Other MPs who favour a change in leadership have been speaking to the media off the record.

The ABC reports that Kevin Rudd insists there is no leadership challenge underway although he has used a Sky News interview to explain how he has changed since being dumped as Prime Minister.

''I've certainly reflected a lot on the last several years and you'd be a mug if you didn't learn something from the past,'' Mr Rudd said.

Leadership tensions within the party are now reportedly boiling over with one backbencher describing Mr Rudd as a prima donna whose had his chance.

Labor front bencher Peter Garrett has delivered a public rebuke to those undermining Prime Minister Julia Gillard saying it was 'inappropriate' for them to canvass the possibility of a leadership challenge in public.

One of Ms Gillard's senior backers says a small group of MPs agitating against her is preventing the Government from getting its message across to the public.

Trade Minister Craig Emerson says he does not know if Mr Rudd is directing the MPs to speak to the media but that it should stop.

''There's no doubt the Australian community understands there is a small group of individuals in the Labor caucus who are running interference against a Labor government,'' he said.