Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has staged a dramatic press conference in Washington, resigning as foreign minister and announcing he will return home to consult, family, friends and political colleagues about his future – which now looks likely to include a leadership push.
Rudd said that the leadership “soap opera” was hurting the Government and business confidence and said he believed he had lost the confidence of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
“I cannot continue to serve as foreign minister if I do not have the Prime Minister’s support and so I have decided to do the honourable thing and the honourable thing is to resign.”
Rudd said he would never be involved in a “stealth” attack on a sitting Prime Minster who had been elected by the people – a reference to the way Gillard seized power from Rudd in mid 2010.
He also renewed his attack on the “faceless men” of the Labor party, who famously sealed his fate as prime minister.
“In recent days Mr [Simon] Crean and a number of other faceless men have publicly attacked my integrity and therefore my fitness to serve as a minister in the government,” Rudd said.
“When challenged today on these attacks Prime Minister Gillard chose not to repudiate them.
“I can only reluctantly conclude that she therefore shares these views.”
While Rudd did not specifically say he would challenge, he did throw down a challenge for his Labor colleagues.
“There is one overriding question for my colleagues and that is who is best placed to defeat Tony Abbott,” he said.
“Tony Abbott is on track to win and has been for a long time.”
Abbott was quick to seize on Rudd’s shock move.
“Kevin Rudd has confirmed two things – that the faceless men are running the Labor Party and that the instability at the top of this government is damaging our country,” he said.
Gillard is yet to release a statement but Craig Emerson has been appointed as foreign minister.