Australia’s ex-PM Rudd pours cold water on challenge

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 February, 2013, 12:59pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 February, 2013, 1:04pm

Australia’s former prime minister Kevin Rudd, who was dramatically ousted by his own Labor Party in mid-2010, on Friday dismissed mounting speculation he will again challenge for the leadership.

As Australians prepare to vote in September polls, the popular Rudd rejected comments from high-profile opposition politician Malcolm Turnbull that he will lead the government into the election, telling him to take an “ice bath”.

“Give us a break,” Rudd told Channel Seven when asked about his aspirations.

“I said a week or so ago everyone should take a long cold shower

“What I’d say to Malcolm... is it’s time to jump in the ice bath. And stay there.”

Turnbull, himself a popular former leader of the conservative opposition Liberal Party who was ousted in a party room vote, said he suspected Labor would likely reinstall Rudd in place of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

“The Gillard government goes from one catastrophe to another,” he said.

Rudd challenged Gillard, the woman who ousted him, to a leadership contest a year ago but since then has ruled out a further tilt despite polls indicating he is the more popular of the two with the public.

However, the Mandarin-speaking former diplomat has maintained a strong presence in the public eye via social media and television spots, going so far as to criticise the government’s mining tax.

Rudd came to power in a 2007 election landslide that ended more than a decade of conservative rule but a series of policy mis-steps saw him lose the confidence of party chiefs and he was axed for the more pragmatic Gillard.

The latest polls suggest Labor will lose power in September.