SYDNEY – Pressure was building Tuesday on defeated Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to quit politics, with senior figures within his Labor Party saying he will be a destabilizing influence.
Rudd’s popularity with the Australian public came crashing down Saturday when he was soundly defeated by conservative Tony Abbott and he announced he will resign as Labor leader.
But several high-profile Labor figures want the 55-year-old former diplomat to go even further and stand down from his Queensland electorate and exit politics altogether to end three years of bitter party infighting.
“Kevin should seriously contemplate leaving the parliament,” former Minister Brendan O’Connor told Sky News.
“If you have a former prime minister sitting in your party room on the back bench, that specter looms large.”
Rudd was elected prime minister in the 2007 general election but within his first term he was dumped by colleagues fed up with his style of management and demoted to foreign minister.
His sudden downfall mystified the Australian public who had elected him, and this, coupled with the unpopularity of his predecessor, Julia Gillard, prompted Labor to return to Rudd’s leadership a second time in June to salvage the party vote ahead of this month’s polls.
Former Trade Minister Craig Emerson, a staunch Gillard supporter, said this was a mistake as Rudd had a history of destabilizing his colleagues to take their positions as he worked his way to the top and called on him to quit.
“The election was a disaster for Labor and Kevin Rudd’s continuing presence in the parliamentary Labor Party will see him do what he has always done and that is willingly, willfully, recklessly destabilize Labor leaders,” Emerson told ABC.