Former Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd strikes back | Asia Pacific

Former Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd strikes back

Former Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd strikes back

Updated 29 February 2012, 14:14 AEDT

A day after announcing his resignation as Australia's Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd has hit back at his critics.

Supporters of Prime Minister Julia Gillard have echoed the sentiments of the Treasurer Wayne Swan, accusing Mr Rudd of being a dysfunctional PM and sabotaging the Labor party.

The PM herself has spoken out for the first time, calling a leadership challenge on Monday, and expressing confidence that she'll win ... even though Kevin Rudd says he believes Julia Gillard will lose the next election.

Correspondent: Girish Sawlani

Speakers: Julia Gillard, Australian Prime Minister; Kevin Rudd, outgoing Australian Foreign Minister; Tony Burke, Australian Agriculture Minister; Stephen Conroy, Australian Communications Minister; Kate Ellis, Australian Employment Participation Minister; Martin Ferguson, Australian Resources Minister; Marty Natalegawa, Indonesian Foreign Minister; Julie Bishop, Australian Opposition's Foreign Affairs spokeswoman

SAWLANI: Eversince Kevin Rudd annoucned his resignation in Washington, supporters of the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard have been scathing in their assessment of their former colleague. None more so, than the Treasurer Wayne Swan, who accused Mr Rudd of being dysfunctional, disloyal and sabotaging the ruling Labor party. On Thursday, some cabinet ministers continued their attacks.

TONY BURKE: Kevin has been running a relentless campaign to undermine the government.

STEPHEN CONROY: Kevin Rudd says he wants plain talking. And now, we're plain talking about why the caucus overwhelmingly dumped him and why the caucaus overwhelmingly doesn't want him back.

KATE ELLIS: The reality is, that Kevin Rudd has been making deeply personal attacks behind the scenes, to journalists for well over a year now.

SAWLANI: But shortly before he left, Washington, Kevin Rudd struck back.

RUDD: Whatever our differences in politics, I do not believe that these sorts of vicious personal attacks have a place in our national political ife. We all have a responsibility to preserve the fabric of decency in our national political institutions, and that includes within our principal political institutions, including our principal political parties. Therefore, I've been shocked and disappointed, I would say to you, and I would urge my own supporters in Australia not to retaliate, not to engage in this sort of vicious personal attack, I don't believe it has a proper place in Australian politics.

SAWLANI And his backers are slowly coming out in support. Martin Ferguson is Australia's Resources Minister:

FERGUSON: Kevin Rudd is best placed to take on Tony Abbott, and potentially in the best position as to win the next federal election, and it's on the basis of that assessment that I have declared my position as I should, and I have no intention of getting into a sparring match with my colleagues publicly or privately.

SAWLANI: Desperate to settle the matter once and for all, the Prime Minsiter Julia Gillard officially announced a leadership balot for Monday morning. She says for too long there has been squabbling within the Labor party, which has obscured the government's achievements. But she's confident of victory in Monday's ballot.

GILLARD: I expect to receive the support of my colleagues when I do so. But let me be very clear about this. If against my expectation, I do not receive the support of my colleagues, then I will go to the back bench, and I will renounce any further ambition for the Labor leadership. This would be in the best interest of the government and the nation. I anticipate that Mr Rudd will also be a candidate in this ballot. i ask him to give the same undertaking.

SAWLANI: But Kevin Rudd says Julia Gillard will lose the next general election due next year.

RUDD: I do not believe that Prime Minister Gillard can lead the Australian Labor party to success in the next election. That is a deep belief. I believe it's also a view shared right across the Australian community.

SAWLANI: There's been some degree of reaction on the international front - with Canada's foreign Minister John Baird saying he was devastated to lose Mr Rudd as a colleague. Sweden's foreign Minister, Carl Bildt says he was saddened by his Australian counterpart's resignation, as he and Mr Rudd had been good partners on many issues. But the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa says Kevin Rudd's sudden resignation won't affect the relationship between the two nations.

NATALEGAWA: The beauty of Indonesia - Australia relations is that it is all weather, so however and whatever develops in Australia the two countries will enjoy very close friendly and fraternal relations.

SAWLANI: But the Australian opposition's foreign affairs spokeswoman, Julie Bishop says the ongoing leadership saga has damaged Australia's international reputation.

BISHOP: There are actually serious problems arising from the fact that the prime minister and the-then foreign minister haven't been talking to each other. And it has had an impact in our region. Even Kevin Rudd said in his resignation speech, that this crisis within the Labor government had the potential to damage Australia's international reputation.

SAWLANI: All eyes are now on Kevin Rudd, who's yet to confirm whether he'll contest the ballot on Monday.

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