Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has echoed NSW Premier Bob Carr:
“I think Kevin has enormous ability and I think one day there’s a very strong possibility that he will be prime minister of this country,” Mr Beattie told reporters. He said what Labor needed most was a healer and that healer was Kim Beazley. “I just think at this time the party needs to be brought together and I think that Kim is the best person to do that and I’ll be working hard to help make him prime minister at the next election.”
There is no doubt that Rudd is under immense pressure not to contest the Labor Leadership. As I previously observed, both Premiers and faction leaders such as Big Bill Ludwig of the Queensland AWU have been trying to influence MPs. At the same time, fluidity within the caucus itself continues to grow, with support for Beazley crossing factional lines, and the Left (and to a lesser degree the Right) both split.
It will be very interesting to see which way he decides today. There’s a fair bit at stake for Rudd. The interventions from Carr and Beattie may well be code for “wait your turn”. Implicit in this is probably “if you don’t, you’re gone”. While Rudd would not suffer the same fate as Craig Emerson for going against the Queensland AWU line (and Emerson’s reasons for supporting Beazley have been rather pathetic in the true sense of the word), future preferment for Rudd is dependent on both the National Right in caucus and the will of Beazley if he becomes leader. It’s significant also to note that Beattie and Rudd are members of the same Queensland Right faction – Labor Unity.
UPDATE: 3pm AEST. Ruddy’s about to make his announcement. My guess is that he won’t run but Gilly will. We’ll know soon.
FURTHER UPDATE: As Ron advises in comments, Rudd is not running. That’s a pity. I can understand why he might have made this decision (not time, can’t win, pressure) but he will be accused of having squibbed it twice and that won’t be a good look if the Beazer crashes and burns. What were those comments PJK made about picking your time? The Labor Party, and the Australian public, would both benefit from a contest, at the very least so that Beazley has to articulate the reasons for his return apart from prolix platitudes. Let’s hope Gilly runs.
ANOTHER UPDATE: I agree with these comments by Rudd:
“We are the ALP, we are the alternative government of Australia, and frankly, right now, we are in a God-awful shambles,” he said.
“We need to patch this up straight away in order to lift ourselves out of the muck and become a viable alternative government for this country.
“This country deserves better than we are currently delivering.”