Peter Van Olssen in the Australian reporting today that Gillard doesn’t have the numbers and that Rudd probably would have (by a narrow margin) if a spill was called. Not that there will be a spill – someone has to call it and Rudd has declared he wouldn’t. And it isn’t clear to me that Gillard not having a majority would mean that anyone else has a majority – some want Rudd, and some want someone other than Rudd or Gillard. Things are still too quiet – whilst there’s rumbling it doesn’t have the feel of a coup yet. I think it’s out there, but waiting for some piece of bad news or sustained bad polling. I’d guess after the budget if anyone was going to make a move, but if the right opportunity comes along earlier I’m sure it’d be taken.
My understanding is that it’s hard to mount a challenge when parliament isn’t sitting – too hard to get everyone together to plot. And this upcoming week is the last sitting week before the budget. There isn’t a NewsPoll due this week. So that would align with the theory that after the budget is the next major opportunity.
Peter thinks different – he’s spruiking that people want movement next week. My feel is that he’s a bit of a lefty, and is politically savvy enough to see that Gillard can’t win. He’s spruiking this because it’s what he thinks they need as much as because he thinks it’s actually going to happen – and if you read between the lines in his article he’s more saying that it needs to happen than that he has any information that it will actually happen. Again, the media as part of the process rather than as a reporter of that process.
Interestingly, Peter raises the prospect that a Rudd that isn’t installed now is a threat after the election. Basically putting the position to the likes of Shorten, who doesn’t want the top job now but wants it later, that if he doesn’t support Rudd now, then that means Rudd may get the job after the election. Which would put paid to Shorten’s chances. So the logic would presumably be to install Rudd now, let him take the fall for the election loss, then make your move in your own time. Personally, I’d let Gillard go to a loss, then let Rudd have a turn at a loss, then make my move. It’s unlikely that Labor can get back up after one election (if they don’t win this one), so there’s at least one interim opposition leader. I’d let someone else take that one, then have a go.