THERE will be another federal leadership challenge before the election but the damage is already done, according to former Labor candidate for Calare Kevin Duffy.
In a dramatic day in federal politics, Prime Minister Julia Gillard retained the leadership of the Labor party after Kevin Rudd decided against standing for a leadership vote in the ALP caucus. No one else challenged Ms Gillard for the leadership at the spill.
Cabinet minister Simon Crean had earlier called for the Prime Minister to hold a leadership vote after Mr Rudd’s backers had prepared a petition calling for a spill.
Mr Duffy said the destabilisation of the party would continue until there was change.
“I think there is a hell of a big chance there’ll be another one [a spill] before the election,” he said.
“I think most people would have liked the idea that Rudd would challenge.”
Labor party member Glenn Taylor initially told the Central Western Daily he agreed there would be another challenge, however after hearing Mr Rudd speak out that he would not challenge the leadership unless there was a vacant position he changed his mind.
“No, after hearing him [Rudd], I don’t think there will be another challenge,” he said.
“Amidst all this speculation Labor haven’t been able to sell their message.”
Both men agree the reason Ms Gillard is unpopular is because the public have not forgiven her for the way she disposed of Mr Rudd three years ago.
“Rudd has the support of the people but not of caucus, Julia has the support of caucus but not the people,” Cr Taylor said.
“I think she has done an excellent job but it goes back to the way she disposed of Rudd.”
Cr Duffy said the general public felt cheated.
“The people should sack a prime minister not the party,” he said.
Cr Duffy suggested it might not be Mr Rudd who challenged for the leadership. He suggested Defence Minister Stephen Smith as an alternative.
Either way it will not be Mr Crean, who was sacked from the Gillard government front bench yesterday.
Member for Calare John Cobb said he was surprised Mr Crean did not challenge for the leadership considering he called for a spill.
“I think he worked out he didn’t have the numbers,” he said.
“It’s not just the leadership that is Labor’s problem, this won’t make too much difference.
“It’s just chaos.”
Mr Cobb said he doubted the leader of the Labor party would ever be Mr Rudd again.
“Their dislike for Rudd in the party, they’ll never get over it,” he said.