Rudd's wife weighs into leadership campaign

Therese Rein returns home to her Norman Park residence following her husband Kevin Rudd's resignation announcement last night.
Therese Rein returns home to her Norman Park residence following her husband Kevin Rudd's resignation announcement last night.

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Kevin Rudd's wife Therese Rein has urged voters to contact their local Labor MPs and senators and tell them who they want as the party's leader.

Her comments come as senior ALP ministers attacked Mr Rudd over the leadership campaign and Greens leader Senator Bob Brown said he believed Prime Minister Julia Gillard would win Monday's ballot.

Four MPs have already declared their hand with Joel Fitzgibbon, Kate Lundy and Kate Ellis all tweeting today that they will back Ms Gillard. Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten tweeted: "Top performance by the PM this morning, never been more proud of our leader. Looking forward to Monday."

Ms Rein has stood steadfastly by her husband, who said today that he would not hit back at his detractors.

"What ordinary people tell me is they trust Kevin. They respect him, they know how hard he worked ... they know he's committed, they know he's worked hard as foreign minister and tried to do the very best he could," she told reporters today.

"I think he's been strong and courageous and stayed true to himself and I think that's a wonderful thing."

Ms Rein said voters should get in touch with ALP representatives and tell them "this is what I want, I want you to hear me and this is what I want".

She then took to Twitter to reinforce the message retweeting a message from "The Rudd Alliance".

"I would like to urge you all, if you support Rudd, to contact your *Federal* members of parliament today. Today is crucial as Gillard has called a ballot for Monday morning. Tell them you support Rudd and insist that it is vital that they back him in the ballot, for the *people's* sake and that he is the only chance Labor has against ABBOTT," the tweet read.

As the jostling for numbers begins, Senator Brown said his party's support for the minority government has not wavered.

Mr Brown said Mr Rudd's office had contacted him overnight but, despite saying he was available to speak to Mr Rudd, he had not yet heard directly from him.

He said the Greens could work with either Ms Gillard or Mr Rudd but noted that under Mr Rudd's prime ministership he had "not been able to get in a conversation with Kevin".

He went on to say that he had shared a good working relationship with Mr Rudd during his term as foreign minister before praising the policy outcomes he said the Greens had been able to achieve with Ms Gillard as Prime Minister.

Mr Brown said voters who were "disgusted" with the two major parties should support the Greens and warned that if Monday's loser was to retreat to the backbench they would have to focus on working for their constituents, not another tilt at the leadership.

"We Greens are backbenchers and we're a very, very productive lot but if you're thinking about self-promotion from the backbench you don't get far," he said.

Meanwhile, senior Labor figures have come out in force today to lambast Mr Rudd.

Treasurer Wayne Swan labelled Mr Rudd as a man of "great weaknesses" and said that Labor needed to put an end to the Labor leadership question.

"We do need to deal with Mr Rudd," Mr Swan told ABC radio this morning.

"It is simply intolerable for this to go on."

And also this morning before Mr Rudd's second US press conference, Regional Minister and former Labor leader Simon Crean challenged Mr Rudd's claim about "faceless men".

"He called me a faceless man ... and, I must say, I might be called lots of things but I am not faceless. I've always been prepared to call it as it is," he told radio 3AW.

"We have to play as a team. No individual is better than the team. We can't have a collection of prima donnas."

Mr Crean also congratulated Mr Rudd on making the "right call" to resign, but said he should have done it differently.

He also predicted that Mr Rudd would be beaten in a leadership ballot, but the former foreign minister would not resign from Parliament.

And Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the party had to "put this issue to bed".

"We have got to be mature," she told ABC Radio, noting that Mr Rudd had led the ALP to victory in 2007 and had achieved "some amazing things".

But she added that he was very difficult to work with as prime minister.

"That decision [to dump him] was made for very strongly held reasons that I think are still true now."

Other senior ministers have come out to criticise Mr Rudd since he resigned as foreign minister, triggering the ballot on Monday.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy called Mr Rudd's destabilising behaviour behind the scenes a "disgrace" early this morning on Channel Nine.

Trade Minister Craig Emerson – who will act as Foreign Affairs Minister – said Mr Rudd's statement that he would not attack a sitting prime minister was hypocritical.

He said any plans for Mr Rudd to continue to undermine Ms Gillard's leadership from the backbench, if he lost on Monday, were "very, very concerning".

"It is outrageous, absolutely outrageous, for people to say they will continue to destabilise," he told Sky.

He said Australians were sick of the leadership speculation and should not have to put up with a "two-stage destabilisation campaign" that would see Mr Rudd mount a second challenge.

"This is a disgraceful plan and Kevin Rudd should renounce it," he said. Mr Emerson, who supported Mr Rudd in the first leadership stoush with Ms Gillard, said he now backed the Prime Minister.

Last night, Environment Minister Tony Burke added that he was glad the leadership issue was being resolved.

"The fact that Kevin's been openly campaigning for the leadership has been the worst kept secret in Canberra," he told 7.30.

But Labor backbencher Janelle Saffin said the spate of senior Gillard ministers entering the fray and criticising Mr Rudd was "unseemly".

Ms Saffin also told ABC Radio this morning that people in her northern NSW electorate wanted to see Mr Rudd return as prime minister. She said Australians had elected him in 2007 and saw his dumping as "wrong" and Labor had been "paying the price ever since".

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