Canberra, June 18: Prime Minister Julia Gillard for the first time on Saturday publicly attacked the leader she overthrew a year ago, Kevin Rudd, in a move some analysts say is proof that her job is under threat.
The attack came days after Rudd, now Australia's foreign minister, denied a newspaper report that he was plotting a return to power as Gillard's government tanks in opinion polls.
Gillard, in an interview published in News Corp. newspapers on Saturday, said her center-left Labor Party “lost a sense of purpose and plan for the future” under Rudd.
“We didn't have a clear plan as to how we were going to deal with a set of difficult questions or a clear plan generally about where the government was driving toward,” she said. “What I've done as prime minister is inject that sense of clarity of purpose.”
Gillard had been Rudd's deputy before she challenged for the leadership in a ballot of lawmakers as opinion polls showed the Labor Party was facing defeat at looming elections.
When he became aware of Gillard's overwhelming support, Rudd quit without a vote on June 24. Under Gillard, Labor scraped through elections in August to form a minority government.
Gillard previously was coy about her reasons for toppling Rudd, saying only that “a good government had lost its way.” But with her first anniversary as Australia's first woman prime minister approaching and a new poll showing that twice as many voters prefer Rudd to her, Gillard has become more scathing.
Nick Economou, a Monash University political scientist, said Gillard's comments were evidence that her colleagues are considering replacing her.
“They're gone unless something absolutely spectacular happens,” Economou said of the government's prospects at 2013 elections.
“Whether bringing back Rudd is that spectacular thing, I don't think it would be,” he said. “But there's still two years to go until the next election and anything is possible and they have to do something because if they don't, they'll be absolutely wiped out.”
The latest disastrous poll for the government, published in The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday, showed support for Labor was down to 27 percent—its lowest level in almost 40 years.
The poll by market researcher Nielsen found that 60 percent of respondents preferred Rudd as leader and only 31 percent chose Gillard.
The poll was a random nationwide telephone survey of 1,400 voters this week. It has a 2.6 percent margin of error.
Rudd, the first Labor prime minister in Australian history to be dumped by his own colleagues in his first three-year term in office, said in an interview published in the Herald on Saturday that he had learned from his mistakes. AP