AUSTRALIA

Kevin Rudd

Rudd's rule change makes it harder to dump a PM

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 July, 2013, 3:48am

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was branded "Recycled Rudd" after he lost power in a Labor Party leadership wrangle and then snatched it back in a similar showdown three years later.

Yesterday he succeeded in changing the ruling party's regulations to make his job safer.

The party has decided also to make sure that the prime minister that the people elect in the future will be the prime minister the people get in the future

Labor lawmakers agreed at a three-hour meeting with his proposal to tighten rules dictating how a prime minister can be dumped by a government.

With elections expected within weeks, the centre-left party is presenting itself as a more stable administration that is now far less likely to jettison a leader when opinion polls turn against them.

"The party has decided also to make sure that the prime minister that the people elect in the future will be the prime minister the people get in the future," Rudd said.

Previously, disgruntled Labor lawmakers could force a leadership ballot if they could persuade a third of their colleagues to sign a petition. They changed it to require the signatures of at least 75 per cent of Labor lawmakers.

And the decision is no longer for the lawmakers alone to make. Unelected members of the party now have half the votes in any ballot to decide a prime minister.

Labor has trailed the conservative opposition coalition in opinion polls for the past two years. But the government has gained popularity since Rudd ousted Julia Gillard as prime minister a month ago in a ballot of lawmakers 57 votes to 45.