- Julia Gillard: "I am the person who gets things done"
- Kevin Rudd announces Australian leadership challenge
- Labor party MPs to choose between Rudd and Gillard
- Gillard under pressure after ousting Rudd in June 2010
Former Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd announced Friday that he will seize a second chance to lead the country by launching a formal challenge to Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Rudd ended days of speculation as to his intentions following his shock resignation Wednesday while on an official trip to Washington.
"Rightly or wrongly, Julia (Gillard) has lost the trust of the Australian people. And starting on Monday I want to start restoring that trust," he told a press conference in Brisbane.
"And that is why I've decided to contest the leadership of the Labor Party."
Within hours, Gillard responded by appearing in front of the nation's press to declare that she was the best person to lead the party to victory in the next election.
"Talk is easy. Getting things done is harder and I am the person who get things done," she said.
Answering Rudd's suggestion that she had lost the trust of Australian voters, Gillard said: "Australians can have confidence in me that no matter how hard it gets, I've got the determination and personal fortitude to see things through."
"I am confident I can lead Labor to a victory at the next election," she said.
Gillard came to power in June 2010 after launching her own leadership challenge against Rudd. At the time, she was his deputy and justified the move by claiming "the government was losing its way."
Rudd had been in power since defeating the then Liberal Prime Minister John Howard in a general election in 2007. It was Labor's first win since 1996.
For a time, Rudd was one of the country's most popular serving prime ministers but his popularity tumbled after he was seen to backtrack on his commitments to climate change and an emissions trading scheme.
Soon after Rudd's surprise resignation Wednesday, Gillard called a ballot for Monday morning to end the leadership speculation "once and for all."
"This is not an episode of Celebrity Big Brother, this is about who should be Prime Minister," she said Friday, adding that her colleagues needed to decide "who's got the strength, the temperament, the character, the courage to lead this nation."
Despite consistently lower approval ratings than her predecessor, Gillard maintained Friday she had enough support to lead the Labor Party to victory in the next election. Her record, she said, spoke for itself.
"As prime minister I have got big reforms done that languished under my predecessor," she said.
"These big reforms include putting a price on carbon and seizing a clean energy future, health reform, the minerals resource rent tax, making sure that our telecommunications system was ready for the 21st century. As prime minister, I have got the hard things done, and as prime minister after Monday I would intend to do that," she said.
The ruling Labor Party has seen its support evaporate since pushing the Liberal Party from power in 2007, and recent polls indicate it would lose an election if it was held now.
Rudd said that that it was clear that the Labor party had a lot of work to do to regain the confidence of the Australian people.
He said he was best placed to do that and to see off a challenge from a strengthened opposition party which he described as one of the most right-wing in Australia's history.
"I want to finish the job that the Australian people elected me to do when I was elected by them to become prime minister," Rudd said.
Rudd said he was "a bit tired and fed up" of being blamed for the problems of the government under his successor.
"The government's problems have been of its own making. If I didn't exist people would have cast around for an alternative leader for the Australian Labor Party because where we've got to; historically low polling numbers, not for one month but for 12 months."
Rudd said that if he failed in his bid, he would return to the backbench and not launch another challenge against Gillard. Gillard has also said she will take a back seat if her colleagues opt for her Labor rival.
While opinion polls indicated that Rudd was popular with voters, insiders have criticized his leadership style as secretive, interfering and erratic.
Gillard accused him Thursday of being "an excellent campaigner," but having "very chaotic work patterns" that resulted in "paralysis in the government."
Gillard called an election in late 2010, and a big drop in support for Labor resulted in a hung parliament. Eventually three independent MPs backed Gillard, enabling her to defeat Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott and form a minority government.
Abbott said Australians were "embarrassed" and "humiliated" by the spat within the ruling party.
"We are a great country being brought down by a bad government," he said.