11 Jun 2013

Gillard pledges to lead Labor to election

1:30 pm on 11 June 2013

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said on Tuesday she will "certainly" lead Labor through to the next election and described leadership speculation as "wasted breath".

Another round of talk about a comeback by her predecessor Kevin Rudd was triggered last week by a flurry of polling showing disastrous results for the party.

However, Mr Rudd has indicated he will not mount a challenge and the ABC reports Ms Gillard has made clear she will not quit.

She says she is "completely" confident of leading the party through to the election on 14 September.

"I am the best person to lead the Labor Party," she said on Tuesday morning.

"I understand that these are difficult times, but people elect governments to do the big things our nation needs for the future, and they re-elect governments if they are achieving and getting those big things done. And that's what my focus is on."

She said there are no circumstances under which she will not be in the top job at the time of the election.

"No there are not," she said, adding "to make sure we haven't confused anybody with too many double negatives there - I will certainly be leading Labor at the next election.

"There's speculation: some of it is media speculating about media and journalists reporting the words of journalists.

"Yes there's rumour-mongering and speculation - it's wasted breath."

The ABC reports there is mounting pressure on Labor frontbencher and right faction powerbroker Bill Shorten to ask Ms Gillard to quit for the good of the party.

But Ms Gillard says she still has his backing.

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Mr Shorten said on Friday that Tony Abbott was poised to win the federal election on 14 September in a landslide.

Mr Shorten's support is considered critical in fending off or orchestrating a change.

One source close to the minister told the ABC Mr Shorten was bruised by a "powerbroker" image in the last leadership change and does not want to be seen with blood on his hands a second time around.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd said in Victoria on Friday that he did not see any circumstances in which he would become the leader again.

Labor frontbencher Amanda Rishworth, who has backed Ms Gillard for the leadership in the past, said she does not think voters are focused on the internal politics of the Labor party.

Ms Rishworth told Sky News she was not listening to leadership chatter.

'Jihad' comment ignored

AAP reports Mr Rudd has ducked criticism by former Labor leader Mark Latham that he is leading a "jihad of revenge" against Ms Gillard.

Mr Latham told the ABC on Monday that Mr Rudd was engaged in a "jihad of revenge" against Ms Gillard, who ousted him in June 2010.

"You're getting into the realm of evil here with Rudd ... with someone who has gone well beyond normal practices in politics," he said.

Mr Latham said Labor had been through five leadership changes in 12 years and none had been as bitter as the Rudd-Gillard change.

A spokesman for Mr Rudd told AAP on Monday:

"Mr Rudd has not responded to anything Mr Latham has said in the last eight years and he is not about to start now."