23 Feb 2012

Gillard confirms leadership ballot next week

9:59 pm on 23 February 2012

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has confirmed a leadership ballot will be held next week to resolve the Labor Party leadership stoush with Kevin Rudd.

On Wednesday, Mr Rudd announced during a trip to the United States that he would step down as Foreign Minister.

Ms Gillard's announcement that the Australian Labor Party's caucus would vote on the leadership at 10am on Monday came just after Mr Rudd spoke to media for a second time in Washington about the issue, the ABC reports.

The Prime Minister said on Thursday that Australians are sick of the squabbling and it is time to resolve it once and for all.

Mr Rudd has stopped short of confirming that he would run against Ms Gillard, but the Prime Minister said she expected that it is his intention to.

Ms Gillard said she is confident of winning the ballot. But if she loses, she will take a seat on the back bench and give up all ambitions for the Labor leadership. She has asked Mr Rudd to give the same undertaking.

Ms Gillard said she believes she can lead the Labor Party to a win at the next election and defeat Opposition leader Tony Abbott.

She said only Labor can provide the vision that Australia needs for its future and the party can provide it only if it resolves the leadership issue and proceeds with unity and determination.

So far Mr Rudd has been backed by four ministers - Chris Bowen, Robert McClelland, Kim Carr and Martin Ferguson.

An estimated 30 more caucus colleagues are expected to support him, but Ms Gillard is expected to comfortably win the ballot of the 103-member caucus.

Resigning 'honourable' thing to do - Rudd

Kevin Rudd said he was resigning as he felt he no longer had the support of the Prime Minister. He did not consult with her before making his announcement.

Mr Rudd said he would not be part of the leadership "soap opera" and that resigning was the only "honourable" thing for him to do.

He said he would return to Brisbane on Friday to consult his family, community and colleagues about his future and would reveal his intentions before Parliament resumed on Monday.

Mr Rudd was deposed as prime minister by Ms Gilard in a coup in June 2010.

He said on Wednesday night that the future of the Australian Labor Party depended on removing the influence of factions within the party. He denied he had been plotting a comeback.

Leaked video

The ABC reports speculation about a possible move by Mr Rudd on the Labor leadership reached new heights at the weekend after a leaked video showed him swearing during his time as prime minister.

Senior ministers, including Simon Crean, called on Ms Gillard to sack him and end the leadership tensions.

Ms Gillard has not defended Mr Rudd from attacks made against him.