LABOR MPs have thrown their support behind Kevin Rudd once again, voting him leader of the Labor Party over Julia Gillard in a secret ballot held by the Labor Caucus, 57 votes to 45 votes.
Julia Gillard called for the leadership ballot earlier today as fervent speculation about a leadership challenge from Kevin Rudd reached a head. Mr Rudd’s backers had circulated a petition to MPs to force a special Caucus meeting to decide the issue.
It followed weeks of disastrous polls showing Labor heading for a significant loss in the next election.
The odds of a Rudd victory increased dramatically in the lead up to the ballot with Workplace Relations minister Bill Shorten publicly supporting a change in leadership.
Bill Shorten was a fundamental player in Julia Gillard’s challenge for the leadership three years ago, and acknowledged his support for Rudd would come at “great personal cost” to himself.
However he said Kevin Rudd would give the Labor party the “best chance of winning” the next election.
The decision is likely to mean significant changes to the front bench of the Labor Party, with a number of key ministers saying they would not support a Kevin Rudd led party.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth Peter Garrett have both said they would not serve under Kevin Rudd.
In calling the ballot Julia Gillard said she would quit politics should she lose the leadership. Sky News is reporting that Ged Kearney, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, may stand for Gillard’s seat of Lalor if Gillard loses and steps aside.
Kevin Rudd is now leader of the Labor Party and will have to approach the Governor-General tomorrow in order to become the Prime Minister.