Sunday, 19 February 2012

Kevin Rudd is a Happy Little Vegemite

The video, showing a furious Kevin Rudd ranting and swearing, was leaked on the internet last night as the Government's leadership feud reached crisis point. The video was posted anonymously on YouTube after Prime Minister Julia Gillard's supporters declared war on Mr Rudd's character.

Posted under the title "Kevin Rudd is a happy little vegemite", the video dramatically raised the stakes in the bitter leadership rift between Ms Gillard and Mr Rude said the video, in which an obviously frustrated Mr Rudd slams the table and uses four-letter curses, was embarrassing but his frustration was directed at himself and no one else.

He said the video was from one of a number of speeches he recorded from time to time for Chinese community occasions, and was probably done in a reception room next to the prime minister's office "a couple of years ago". "You'd sit down and try and get the script right. Obviously I wasn't getting it right on this occasion and was getting pretty frustrated about it."

Mr Rudd said it was no secret that he did often swea "I've never pretended not to swear from time to time. That's been out there for a long, long time. "I wish I'd sweared (sic) less but that's just the truth of it."

His spokeswoman declined to say where the video had come from, saying: "He (Mr Rudd) regrets any offence that might be caused by the release of this selectively edited footage recorded a number of years ago."

The person who anonymously posted the video on YouTube yesterday identified themselves as HappyVegemiteKR - an apparent play on Mr Rudd's repeated descriptions of himself as a "happy little Vegemite" when questioned on his leadership aspirations.

The clip is a compilation of out-takes as an increasingly frustrated Foreign Affairs Minister fluffs his lines struggling to deliver a recorded speech. "Arrrhhh mate this is just impossible," he says, looking off-camer. "Just tell these d---heads in the embassy to just give me simple sentences . . ."

Timing coincides with leadership speculation

The emergence of the video capped a tumultuous day in federal politics in which  one of Ms Gillard's MPs publicly urged her to "resign now. The shock tactics designed to blast the Prime Minister out of office in favour of Mr Rudd were led by Victorian Labor MP  who holds the marginal seat of Corangamite by just 400 votes.Darren Cheeseman,

As the Prime Minister flew into Darwin last night to mark the 70th anniversary of the Japanese bombing, Mr Cheeseman publicly called for her to stand down as her defiant supporters insisted she would fight on. "There's no doubt about it. Julia Gillard can't take the party forward. The community has made its mind up on her," he told the Sunday Herald Sun. "And I think it's in the best interests of party she should resign."

The extraordinary call was earlier backed by some of the Ms Gillard's ministers. "For the good of the party. For the good of the Government, she should stand down," a senior minister said.

In the event of a leadership vote, the Gillard camp maintained she had more than 60 votes in the 103 ALP caucus, but even her supporters conceded a ballot was high-risk because it would probably show more than a third of MPs wanted her gone.

A Labor powerbroker warned Mr Rudd was destroying the party, driving down the primary vote with relentless destabilisation. "He's taken ALP caucus hostage. His message is, 'I'll shoot the Prime Minister - if you don't give me the job'. "He is lying about his support levels."

As ministers loyal to the Prime Minister yesterday threatened a wave of mass resignations if Mr Rudd regained the leadership, there were predictions Left faction powerbroker and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese or Climate Change Minister Greg Combet would be approached to serve as deputy prime minister if Mr Rudd returned to The Lodge. But angry Labor MPs, including Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, backed Ms Gillard.

Julia Gillard still has support

Ms Roxon said Ms Gillard was "absolutely" the better choice for prime minister over Mr Rudd. "Julia has worked absolute miracles with the hand she has been dealt," she said. Both sides believe Ms Gillard will not resign.

Asked whether he had support for a leadership challenge, Mr Rudd declined to answer. Last night, a senior minister described Mr Cheeseman as "desperate and dateless". "This is a typical cry for relevance from the usual suspects, the desperate and dateless in the caucus who are easily fooled," he said. " If they had anywhere near the numbers they claim, they wouldn't be dropping this sort of rubbish out, as always when Kevin is about to jump on another plane. Mr Rudd flies to Mexico today for a foreign ministers' meeting.

Labor challenge will occur - Wilkie

However, Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has since weighed into the debate, saying he would find it easier to work with Mr Rudd than Ms Gillard if the Foreign Minister regained his former job of prime minister.

Mr Wilkie tore up his agreement to support the Gillard minority government after the Prime Minister broke her promise on gambling reforms in January. The independent member for the Hobart seat of Denison said his relationship with Ms Gillard had taken a "battering" since he pulled his support for the Labor government. "A word has not passed between Julia Gillard and myself since Friday night of January 20," Mr Wilkie told Sky News today. "I would find it easier to work with Kevin Rudd than Julia Gillard at this point of time."

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