We may be in for interesting times when Rudd returns from the World Economic Forum in China, given that on Wednesday night he gave his first substantive interview with the national media since his defeat and relegation to the backbench earlier this year. Rudd has indicated that he will be taking a higher profile at a time when the PM has been under siege; leading to speculation he will try for a return.
Rudd has considerable popularity in the state and a great deal of sympathy from a public that resents the way he was replaced. Queenslanders have longed for a PM they could call their own. When they have had one the terms in office have been cut short. The previous Queensland PM was Frank Forde, for a week in 1945, and before that Artie Fadden briefly in 1941. Prior to that you have to go back to Andrew Fisher who was PM three times between 1908 and 1915.
The Press though, don’t seem to be buying it:
The Australian Financial Review claimed that Mr Rudd's interview with the ABC's 7.30 program on Wednesday night - direct from China, no less - marked the former prime minister's "emergence from self-imposed political exile", but in reality Mr Rudd has been as active and as prominent as he ever has been. In the past few weeks, Mr Rudd has launched a biography of Gough Whitlam, addressed a Brisbane rally protesting against Queensland budget cuts, …This is questionable. All of the appearances prior to 7:30 were localized and not really high profile, unlike this one. The reason “that appearances such as this only drive speculation that he is seeking to destabilise Prime Minister Julia Gillard's leadership,” is that Gillard has an extremely tenuous hold on that leadership, owing to the widespread public perception of dishonesty, possible corruption, and leadership of an incompetent government.
The 7.30 interview, on the back of other characteristically frenetic activity, has naturally led to speculation the former prime minister may be angling for his old job back.
Mr Rudd twice claimed that he had "a responsibility" to make the case for the re-election of the Labor government and to identify the risks in electing a government led by Mr Abbott. Of course, as a Labor backbencher, Mr Rudd is not only entitled to do this as energetically and as persuasively as he can, he has a duty to do so. The problem for Mr Rudd, however, is that appearances such as this only drive speculation that he is seeking to destabilise Prime Minister Julia Gillard's leadership. Indeed, when asked if the government could win the next election with Ms Gillard as leader, it took three further questions from Leigh Sales before Mr Rudd could bring himself to utter the Prime Minister's name. …
There is no doubt that Mr Rudd has many strengths and can be an effective advocate for Labor. But at a time when the Prime Minister was on compassionate leave, grieving with her family after the death of her father, Mr Rudd's decision to be interviewed from China - where he was attending the World Economic Forum - was ill-judged and insensitive.
Rudd as PM would be as divisive and ineffective as he was pre Gillard. The only thing he has going for him is the same as Abbott has; Gillard is worse.