Asia Pacific

Gillard nixes call to quit before election


Prime Minister Julia Gillard dismissed a call from a member of her Labor party to step down before elections in three months as the Australian Workers Union (AWU) pledged support for the country’s first female leader.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, whom Gillard ousted in a backroom coup in June 2010, should lead Labor to the next election, the Australian newspaper reported on its website Saturday, citing lawmaker John Murphy. Gillard is the right person to lead the party in September’s election, the Age newspaper said on its website, citing AWU national secretary Paul Howes.

“Mr. Murphy has had a continuing view for some time now,” Gillard told reporters in Adelaide on Saturday. “All the rumor and speculation, I just let that wash its way round.”

Parliament sits for a final two weeks starting Monday before campaigning gets into full swing, with Gillard needing an unprecedented recovery in popularity to win the Sept. 14 elections. Polls show Labor faces a landslide defeat by Tony Abbott’s Liberal National coalition, while the Australian newspaper last week cited an internal Labor party survey that showed Gillard’s minority government may lose as many as 40 seats.

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