Australia's former attorney general has launched a scathing attack on Labor colleague and ex-prime minister Kevin Rudd, calling him a rude and disorganised "bastard" who should quit parliament.
Rudd, who lost national elections to conservative leader Tony Abbott last month after ousting Julia Gillard as prime minister in June, has a reputation as a hot-tempered politician and a micro-manager, and Nicola Roxon did not mince her words in a speech.
"Although I was frustrated beyond belief by his disorganisation and lack of strategy, I was never personally a victim of his vicious tongue or temper," said Roxon, health minister under Rudd before being elevated to attorney general under Gillard.
"I did, however, see how terribly he treated some brilliant staff and public servants. Good people were burnt through like wildfire - losing senior people … or contemptuously ignoring their advice left the government weaker."
Labor has been dogged by in-fighting for years, with two prime ministers toppled by their own ranks. New party leader Bill Shorten vowed to draw a line under the past rancour after his election last weekend.
But Roxon, who has quit politics, was determined to put her thoughts on record, saying the party did the right thing by getting rid of Rudd in June 2010 in a shock coup by Gillard, who isan ally and friend.
"Removing Kevin was an act of political bastardry for sure. But this act of political bastardry was made possible only because Kevin had been such a bastard himself to so many people already," she said.
His sudden downfall mystified the Australian public and Roxon admitted the party should have better explained why they demoted him to foreign minister.
Rudd stepped down as Labor leader after his crushing defeat by Abbott in September but stoked speculation of a comeback down the track with ambiguous remarks in his concession speech, although he has since kept a low profile.
Roxon said he should quit parliament altogether to give Shorten the chance to rebuild the party.