Pressure builds on Kevin Rudd to quit Australian politics
Defeated PM urged to leave parliament to avoid 'destabilising' party's next leader
Pressure was building yesterday on defeated Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to quit politics, with senior figures within his Labor Party saying he would be a destabilising influence.
Rudd's was soundly defeated on Saturday by conservative Tony Abbott and announced he would 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 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 backbench, that spectre 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 and this, coupled with the unpopularity of the woman who ousted him, Julia Gillard, prompted Labor to return to Rudd's leadership in June to salvage the party vote in Saturday's poll.
Former trade minister Craig Emerson, a staunch Gillard supporter, said Rudd had a history of destabilising colleagues to take their positions as he worked his way to the top.
"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, wilfully, recklessly destabilise Labor leaders," Emerson told the ABC.
"If he stays for any length of time, he will be a favourite of the media, they will ring up Mr Rudd, ask for some off-the-record comments that they can use, just as has happened in the last three years under Julia Gillard's leadership. If he stays, he will destabilise. It's in his nature."
Rudd's close colleague Kim Carr said he intended to remain an MP for a full three-year term.