Page MP Janelle Saffin, who has been a constant supporter of Kevin Rudd, said his victory at last night’s leadership spill is not about minimising collateral damage at the next election but about winning it.
‘[Kevin] believes that the party can win and that’s why he took this on,’ she told ABC radio this morning. ‘He… says now there’s a real contest.’
Ms Saffin insists her support for Rudd was not based on self-preservation and the figures would seem to support this.
She was carried into office on the ‘Ruddslide’ of 2007, with a 7.8 per cent swing towards Labor in the formerly Nationals-held seat. She went against the trend in the 2010 election, increasing her margin to 4 per cent.
‘I was already competitive in the seat of Page given the things that I’ve done and my achievements and my independent streak,’ she said. ‘It wasn’t about me, it was about what I thought was best for the nation.’
Ms Saffin added that despite his promise after the last spill not to contest the leadership again, the party conscripted Mr Rudd to run.
‘My motivation was this is the best thing for the country, the best thing for the federal ALP to unite under Kevin, go to an election under Kevin and better to have him as Prime Minister.’
Richmond MP Justine Elliot says Labor can now win with Mr Rudd as leader.
Mrs Elliot told the ABC that Mr Rudd ‘has got what it takes’ to bring Labor back from its slump in the polls.
‘I voted for Kevin Rudd in the leadership ballot because this is the best chance we have to make sure we defeat Tony Abbott and his extreme policies, policies that are really negative, as well as all those very extreme cuts he wants to make.’
The Nationals candidate for Page, Kevin Hogan, told the ABC the leadership change ‘revealed dysfunction in Labor’.
Echonetdaily political commentator Mungo MacCallum said Mr Rudd’s approach to the coming election was likely to be one of attacking Mr Abbott’s ‘three big lies’.
Mr MacCallum told the ABC that the strategy was expressed on a recent 7.30 Report program where Mr Rudd said the way to beat Abbott was ‘you expose Abbott’s three big lies: about being able stop the boats, about how the Australian economy is in a terrible mess, and about how he is able to do the quick fix, which you can’t’.
Mr MacCallum said Mr Rudd would probably ‘try take a calm and reasoned approach’ in telling the electorate ‘look this is the real situation, so don’t get carried away by all the nonsense, the slogans and the rhetoric’.
He said Mr Rudd would be the target of a ‘very vicious campaign from the opposition, fuelled by [earlier comments of] his own colleagues, which will be hard to counter, and for that reason alone it might be better to go quickly [to an election] rather than wait around’.
Mr MacCallum also said history will treat the Gillard years as ‘an experiment that failed’.
‘They will say the original change in leadership was premature and wrong, that it wasn’t the time, the place, the method and therefore the brave experiment of Julia Gillard has to be counted as a failure,’ he said.
He also said Mr Rudd had a strong international reputation, which ‘might do some good on the international scene’.