Kevin Rudd has said there was “no way in the world” he would have moved against Julia Gillard in June 2013 unless Bill Shorten and his group were with him.
In Tuesday’s episode of The Killing Season, screened on the ABC, Rudd says Shorten did not ask for anything in return for his support.
“I asked for something,” Rudd told interviewer Sarah Ferguson. “That prior to the election we change the rules of the party to prevent a leadership coup from ever happening again.”
The changed rules, which include requiring 60% backing in caucus to a spill to occur in opposition, are now seen as benefiting Shorten. He does not have to watch his back despite his polling worsening.
The final episode of the The Killing Season gives the government more ammunition to recall Labor’s past dysfunction, with plenty of venom from the two former prime ministers and comments by various players still in the parliament.
Rudd refers to Gillard as an “assassin” and says she “has always had a bit of a problem with the truth”.
He admits he might have leaked to Laurie Oakes damaging details of the meeting he and Gillard had on the night of the 2010 coup against him, but denies being the source of leaks in the election campaign about her stands in cabinet on paid parental leave and a pension rise. Wayne Swan and Jenny Macklin both say they thought Rudd leaked that.
Gillard says “there is nothing that could lead you to expect, you know, bastardry of that magnitude”.
She claims that it was made clear to her, in discussions that were going on with senior Labor figure John Faulkner as intermediary, that the only way to stop the leaks was to give Rudd what he wanted – an assertion Rudd describes as “utterly false. John Faulkner never spoke to me about any allegation of culpability concerning me or anybody else”. Rudd was promised the foreign ministry if Labor won.
Talking about Rudd’s campaigning in the following term around marginal seats, Gillard said he was “calibrating his media performances to distract attention from things I was doing as prime minister”.
Rudd said MPs were fearful of how they were going in the polls and knew he had strong support in the community.
He declared: “I think it’s time people actually asked themselves this question: what objectively did Julia get right and get wrong on her own merits in that period of government – and then form a separate conclusion as to whether I was responsible for those errors”.
Sean Kelly, Gillard’s press secretary who earlier worked for Rudd, said that when Gillard’s speech for the 2011 ALP national conference was being drafted “there was some debate about whether or not Kevin should be mentioned in the list of prime ministers in that speech and I remember Julia not being particularly keen on the idea”.
But Gillard says the speech was looked at by a number of people and no one had picked up that the media take would “all be about Kevin”. The omission of a reference to Rudd became a talking point of the conference, angered Rudd, and heightened leadership tensions.
Alan Milburn, a former British Labour MP, asked by Gillard to come to Australia to advise on the 2010 campaign, told the program the hard question Labor had to ask itself was: “How is it possible that you win an election in November 2007 on the scale that you do, with the goodwill that you have, with the permission that you’re gifted by the public … and you manage to lose all that goodwill, to trash the permission and to find yourself out of office within just six years?
“I’ve never seen anything quite like it in any country, anywhere, anytime, in any part of the world. No one can escape blame for that, in my view.”