26 Feb 2012

Gillard set to win Labor leadership ballot

8:11 pm on 26 February 2012

Julia Gillard is set to win the Australian Labor party's leadership ballot on Monday, but challenger Kevin Rudd has voiced MPs' fears it won't be the end of the instability dogging the minority government.

The prime minister has urged the 102 caucus members who are voting to end what she says is the destabilisation campaign run by Mr Rudd and his backers.

However, Mr Rudd fears speculation about the Labor leadership could remain despite him promising to go to the backbench and not challenge Ms Gillard a second time before the next election.

The Rudd side is claiming between 30 and 35 votes, while the Gillard camp is claiming just under 70 votes, with four votes undeclared and one absentee.

Ms Gillard said on Sunday she was feeling determined and believed caucus would unite after the ballot to bury the leadership issue once and for all.

The calls for unity on Sunday came after Rudd supporter Anthony Albanese made a heartfelt speech on Saturday in which he declared his love for the party and despaired that Labor's legacy of good government since 2007 had been devalued by the infighting.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who needs four extra votes in the House of Representatives to bring down the government, repeated his calls for an early election and appealed to independent MPs to support a no-confidence motion in parliament.

But a senior coalition figure said it was "highly unlikely" a no-confidence motion would be moved this week unless the independents made public statements in support of one.