The shadow campaign launched by Kevin Rudd last week moves to his Brisbane heartland on Sunday after continuing Labor leadership turmoil forced a key supporter of the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to reaffirm his loyalty to her on the weekend.
Amid frenzied speculation caucus is poised to move on Ms Gillard’s leadership of the Labor Party when Parliament resumes on Monday in its last two weeks of sittings before the election, Mr Rudd is reminding Queenslanders he’s there to help.
The Prime Minister moved to hose down the leadership talk on Saturday saying she remained focused on important policy issues.
Following a week of campaigning in Sydney, Mr Rudd is spending the weekend in his home town before heading to Canberra for what is sure to be a fiery start to Parliament’s final two sitting weeks before the September election.
On Saturday the national secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union, Paul Howes, one of the so-called “faceless men” who brought down the Prime Ministership of Mr Rudd, was forced to publicly pledged his union’s loyalty.
Asked if Ms Gillard would lead Labor to the September poll, Mr Howes, replied: “Absolutely. She’s the right person to lead the party in September, and she will lead the party in September,” he said.
“What we want to see is the movement unite behind the leader of the movement, who has been confirmed as the leader of the movement numerous times, so we can take up the fight to Tony Abbott, and address the issues that really matter to working Australians.”
Mr Howes was responding to media reports that alleged the AWU had withdrawn its support for Ms Gillard.
In a week in which Mr Rudd campaigned in western Sydney and a rocky start for Ms Gillard when she copped flak for introducing abortion into the political discourse, the issue of leadership was rarely out of focus.
On Sunday, Mr Rudd will be attending the City2South fun run and walk in Brisbane, which ends in his electorate. On Friday Mr Rudd was mobbed while campaigning during a visit to a local school in an inner-Sydney electorate.
Ms Gillard dismissed the feverish speculation during a media conference in Adelaide on Saturday, addressing a News Ltd report that the MP for the Sydney seat of Reid, John Murphy, had publicly called for her to stand down.
“All of this across the week, we’ve got lots of rumour, lots of speculation, we’ve got Mr Murphy who’s had a continuing view for some time now,” the Prime Minister said.
“I don’t worry about any of that. I just get on with it.”
Fairfax Media has spoken to a number of opposition backbenchers and shadow ministers, with most expressing concern over Labor’s possible return to Mr Rudd.
One of Mr Abbott’s most senior frontbenchers said a return to Mr Rudd would be a significant game changer that would not necessarily be welcomed by the oOpposition.
“We know how he campaigns. He campaigns hard and, frankly, it is making some of us more than a little nervous,” the shadow minister said.
“Rudd knows how to work the marginal electorates and he did it so effectively in 2007.
“I observed him then somewhat in awe and my jaw has dropped open again these past couple of weeks watching him work the seats of his mates. The guy is good at it.”
The Labor leadership will be the focus of caucus members this week, with momentum building for a switch back to Mr Rudd.
He and his backers are adamant he won’t challenge for the job and Ms Gillard’s backers insist she will not step aside.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.