Gillard Sees ‘Strong Support;’ Rudd Urges Party Unity: Timeline
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard carries about a 2-to-1 advantage of support among the 103-member Labor caucus heading into today’s leadership ballot against her predecessor Kevin Rudd, according to weekend tallies of lawmakers by the Australian and Age newspapers.
Following is a timeline of the events, policy announcements and media reports ahead of the 10 a.m. vote in Canberra.
Dec. 4, 2006: Rudd is elected opposition leader, defeating Kim Beazley in a Labor party ballot. Gillard becomes Rudd’s deputy.
Nov. 24, 2007: Rudd becomes Australia’s 30th prime minister after his Labor party hands John Howard’s Liberal party the worst election defeat in its 63-year history.
Dec. 3, 2007: Rudd’s government ratifies the Kyoto protocol.
Feb. 13, 2008: Rudd offers the nation’s first apology to Aborigines taken from families for assimilation into the white community, a period from 1910 to 1970 known as the “Stolen Generation.”
Oct. 14, 2008: Rudd announces an economic stimulus of A$10.4 billion ($11.1 billion) to be given to pensioners, home buyers and families.
Dec. 15, 2008: Rudd’s government announces plans for an emissions trading scheme to reduce carbon emissions by 5 percent to 15 percent.
Feb. 3, 2009: Government announces second round of stimulus measures, spending A$42 billion on construction projects including roads and schools as well as handouts to families and low-income earners.
April 27, 2010: Rudd delays emissions trading program to 2012.
May 4, 2010: Rudd’s Labor party loses its lead for the first time since coming to power in 2007, according to Newspoll, after unveiling plans to introduce a 40 percent tax on the profits of resource companies.
June 24, 2010: Gillard becomes Australia’s first female prime minister after deposing Rudd as Labor leader.
Aug. 21, 2010: Gillard loses Labor’s majority in parliament in an election against Abbott’s Liberal-National coalition.
Sept. 7, 2010: Gillard wins support from independent lawmakers to form a minority government.
July 10, 2011: Gillard unveils a tax on polluters.
Sept. 2, 2011: Gillard says she won’t quit after media reports that leaders of her party urged her to consider stepping down, and Labor lawmakers were considering replacing her with Rudd.
Sept. 6, 2011: Gillard’s rating falls to record low, Newspoll says. The poll shows Rudd as the best candidate to lead Labor.
Jan. 21, 2012: Gillard loses the support of independent lawmaker Andrew Wilkie, who says she broke a pledge to tighten gambling laws.
Jan. 27, 2012: A media aide to Gillard resigns for being involved in events that led to clashes between police and aboriginal protesters in Canberra and the rescue by security officers of Gillard and Abbott.
Feb. 13, 2012: A documentary aired by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. questions Gillard’s version of when she decided to challenge Rudd for the Labor leadership.
Feb. 19, 2012: Labor lawmaker Darren Cheeseman urges Gillard to step down and backs Rudd as her replacement, the Sunday Age newspaper reports. Labor can’t win the next election under Gillard, Cheeseman tells the newspaper. Rudd, in an interview with Sky News, says he’s changed and learned from his mistakes.
Feb. 20, 2012: Simon Crean, a former Labor leader who is minister for regional Australia, tells the ABC that Rudd should “put up or shut up.” Rudd denies he has sought anyone’s support to become prime minister.
Feb. 22, 2012: Rudd resigns as foreign minister in Washington. Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan, Rudd’s treasurer when he was in power, says colleagues are “sick of” Rudd and he is undermining the government.
Feb. 23, 2012: Rudd says colleagues regard him as the “best prospect” to lead the party at the next election. Gillard calls a leadership ballot for Feb. 27 “to settle this question once and for all.” She says Rudd had “very chaotic” work patterns as leader. Gillard pledges to renounce any leadership ambition if she loses, and calls on Rudd to make a similar commitment.
Feb. 24, 2012: Rudd, back in Brisbane, appeals to Australians to contact local Labor lawmakers and express views on the party leadership. Gillard says, “This is not an episode of Celebrity Big Brother.” Rudd, saying Abbott is on track for a landslide election victory, declares he’ll contest the leadership ballot. He also pledged to go to the backbench and won’t challenge Gillard a second time if he loses.
Feb. 25, 2012: With about two-thirds support of her party caucus, Gillard says “we must choose unity” after the leadership vote. Rudd also is conciliatory, saying what’s important is “owning all the good stuff we’ve done together, myself, Julia, the whole team.” House leader Anthony Albanese says he’ll back Rudd even as all signs point to a Gillard victory.
Feb. 26, 2012: Gillard says in Melbourne she’s confident of “strong” support of her Labor colleagues. In Brisbane, Rudd says Gillard will have his “unequivocal support” if she wins and calls on unity if he loses.
To contact the reporter on this story: Angus Whitley in Sydney at firstname.lastname@example.org