Gillard Rejects Call to Step Down as Workers Union Vows Support

Prime Minister Julia Gillard dismissed a call from a member of her Labor party to step down before elections in three months as the Australian Workers Union pledged support for the country’s first female leader.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who Gillard ousted in a backroom party coup in June 2010, should lead Labor to the next election, the Australian newspaper reported on its website today, citing lawmaker John Murphy. Gillard is the right person to lead the party to September’s election, the Age newspaper said on its website today, citing AWU national secretary Paul Howes.

“Mr Murphy has had a continuing view for some time now,” Gillard told reporters in Adelaide today. “All the rumor and speculation, I just let that wash its way round.”

Parliament sits for a final two weeks starting June 17 before campaigning gets into full swing with Gillard needing an unprecedented recovery in popularity to win the Sept. 14 elections. Polls show Labor faces a landslide defeat by Tony Abbott’s Liberal National coalition, while the Australian newspaper this week cited an internal Labor party survey as showing Gillard’s minority government may lose as many as 40 seats in September.

To contact the reporter on this story: Phoebe Sedgman in Melbourne at psedgman2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Adrian Kennedy at adkennedy@bloomberg.net

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