23 Mar 2013

Rudd says he'll never again lead ALP

6:40 am on 23 March 2013

The fallout continues in Australia from Thursday's abortive Australian Labor Party (ALP) leadership ruckus.

Former leader Kevin Rudd decided not to challenge for the leadership after fellow minister Simon Crean urged him to, and the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was re-elected as party leader unopposed.

Mr Crean has since been sacked, and on Friday two ministers who support Mr Rudd resigned.

The first to go was the tertiary education minister, Chris Bowen, and he was followed by the resources minister, Martin Ferguson.

And late on Friday, Mr Rudd issued a statement saying that he'll never again lead the ALP.

In a statement on his website Mr Rudd says he wishes to make 100% clear to all members of the parliamentary Labor Party - including his own supporters - that there are no circumstances under which he will return to the Labor Party leadership in the future.

As the party counts the cost of Thursday's fiasco, senior figures are imploring Ms Gillard to clean out her frontbench.

Ms Gillard called the internal election after senior MP Simon Crean demanded the leadership be put to a vote to end the disunity he said was killing the party.

Now she is facing her second Cabinet reshuffle this year after Thursday's events forced two Labor frontbenchers and three party whips out of their roles, the ABC reports.

The most senior of those figures is one-time leader Mr Crean, who will now sit on the backbenches for the first time during his 23-year parliamentary career.

Mr Crean was sacked for disloyalty after he triggered the spill, only for the party's former leader Kevin Rudd not to contest the ballot.

Key Rudd supporter Joel Fitzgibbon - who caused a frenzy of speculation on Wednesday with his comments regarding the leadership - said he would be stepping down from his role as Chief Government Whip.

Fellow whips Janelle Saffin and Ed Husic are also resigning from their roles, while Richard Marles has given up his parliamentary secretary positions.

Labor figures say this is the opportune time for Ms Gillard to clean out her ministerial team and ensure those who remain are loyal to her cause.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith said the uncontested ballot was an emphatic endorsement for Ms Gillard and a number of people need to consider quitting.

Australia is to hold a general election in September.