Its a K Rudd V Julia G showdown next Monday as both Labor leaders, past and present, vie for the top prize.
Pictured: Julia Gillard and Stephen Conroy: They’re laughing now, but will they still be as jolly on Monday?
But where does Minister for Broadband and Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy, stand on in this power battle?
Conroy is a 110% Julia Gillard devotee, and made his position very clear on the Nine Network this week, declaring Labours MP’s were relieved when Rudd resigned as Foreign Minister on Wednesday and criticised the constant “sniping’ from Camp Rudd in recent few months.
The “constant undermining, the constant leaking, the constant publication of lists claiming to be Rudd supporters is damaging the government,” he said.
Conroy also reiterated his support for the Prime Minister, saying: “Julia Gillard has and continues to have the overwhelming support of the parliamentary Labor Party.”
“I think there’s a great sigh of relief in the caucus that we’re finally going to resolve all this,” he added, referring to next Monday’s 10am leadership ballot where Labour MP’s will decide, once again, who will be their leader after Mr Rudd declared his resignation in Washington at 2am local time Wednesday, just after 6pm AEST.
A bold Conroy also predicts Mr Rudd will lose the leadership race, suggesting its a matter of “when” and not “if” he loses the race for the hearts and minds of Labor MP’s and warned Rudd must back off when this happens.
“There has to be an acceptance from Mr Rudd when he loses the ballot that he will desist from this campaign, desist from this destabilisation,” he told reporters yesterday.
“The best person to beat Tony Abbott is the person who can run a functional, competent government that is consultative and treats the cabinet and treats the caucus and the people of Australia with respect.
“Only one person fits the bill … and that’s Julia Gillard.”
“What we need is an end to this comedy. If this was to go on, Tony Abbott will be the next prime minister,” he added.
Conroy was speaking prior to an address at the 10th Annual Australian Broadcasting Summit Sydney Convention Centre, yesterday.
But will he be forced out of his beloved Comms portfolio which he has held for several years if K Rudd gets back in?
With comments like these uttered yesterday, it is very likely.
His office was not answering calls when contacted by SmartHouse for comment yesterday.
But either way, it looks as if there is a major cabinet shake-up pending, even if Ms Gillard remains Labor’s top dog.
What then becomes of his pet project the $36 billion National Broadband Network now in full swing, if he is forced out of his portfolio?
The NBN was announced as a pre-election Labor promise in 2007 so it will go ahead gung-ho even if Rudd gets back in but other issues like web censorship, press regulation and funding of ABC are other pressing issues on the Communication agenda.
“The truth is I can only serve as Foreign Minister if I have the confidence of Prime Minister Gillard and her senior ministers,” Rudd said in his resignation speech yesterday.
And it is clear Sen. Conroy is not one of them. But who would replace Conroy if he is given the sack by Rudd is still unclear.
Ms Gillard speaking at The Lodge yesterday said she “just wants to get things done.”
“This has moved to a distraction from governing itself. This is not good enough. Australians are rightly sick of this and they want it brought to an end.”
“When the ballot is called I will re nominate for the Labor leadership and I expect the support of my colleagues when I do so.”
10am Monday it is then, folks.