Gillard hangs on with Kevin Rudd’s ideas: Aussie Liberals
The federal opposition has accused Prime Minister Julia Gillard of building “monuments” to herself to fend off a challenge from her predecessor Kevin Rudd.
THE federal opposition has accused Prime Minister Julia Gillard of building “monuments” to herself to fend off a challenge from her predecessor Kevin Rudd.
Mr Rudd, who is in China attending the World Economic Forum, on Wednesday night gave his first major media interview since his failed tilt at the Labor leadership in February.
The former prime minister, who has been campaigning in schools and rallying with sacked public servants in Queensland in the past week, said the government could prevail against Opposition Leader Tony Abbott at the 2013 federal election.
But it took several questions to prod him into saying Labor could be victorious “under Prime Minister Gillard’s leadership” during the ABC 7.30 interview.
As Mr Abbott and Ms Gillard on Thursday attended the NSW funeral for a soldier killed in Afghanistan, the opposition used question time in parliament to needle Labor over Mr Rudd’s ambitions.
Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey told the house the government had made $120 billion of new spending promises to “put off the leadership challenge”.
Mr Rudd recently talked up the need for more education spending, a review of the carbon floor price and more funding for disabilities – policies which have been embraced by Ms Gillard.
“The prime minister is building monuments to herself to fend off the member for Griffith (Mr Rudd),” Mr Hockey said.
Labor frontbencher Penny Wong said it was “absolutely right” for Mr Rudd to criticise the coalition.
“He should be doing what we all should be doing, which is out there advocating for Labor policy and for the Labor government,” she told Sky News.
Australian Greens leader Christine Milne said it was clear Mr Rudd wanted his job back.
“It certainly appears as if he has never gone away actually in terms of his leadership aspirations,” she told ABC radio.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr said Mr Rudd was doing his job.
“As a former prime minister he’s absolutely entitled to be engaged on these great questions,” Senator Carr said, noting that John Howard, Paul Keating, Bob Hawke and Malcolm Fraser all spoke out on various issues.
Meanwhile, Labor again called on Mr Abbott to explain an incident at Sydney University in 1977 recounted in the latest Quarterly Essay magazine.
Journalist David Marr quoted former student Barbara Ramjan saying an angry Mr Abbott threw two punches at a wall near her head after she beat him for the student representative council (SRC) presidency.
Mr Abbott has since said the incident “never happened”.
But former student and federal ALP candidate David Patch, now a Sydney barrister, on Thursday said Ms Ramjan had told him about the incident soon after it happened.
“She (Ms Ramjan) was very shaken, scared and angry. She told me that Tony Abbott had come up to her, put his face in her face, and punched the wall on either side of her head. So I am a witness,” Mr Patch said.
However, another former SRC member, Ron Grunstein, said he did not recall the alleged incident.
Senator Wong said Mr Abbott had held the prime minister up to scrutiny over her reasons for leaving a law firm 17 years ago and should be subject to the same inquiry. – AAP