Former prime minster Julia Gillard told Kevin Rudd that the Labor government was perceived as “incompetent and out of control” and headed towards electoral oblivion, just two days before challenging his position as Prime Minister.
In an email to Mr Rudd on the morning of Monday, June 21, 2010, Ms Gillard revealed that she was deeply troubled about the Labor government’s performance.
The email expressed “a great deal of anxiety” over asylum seeker policies and a “loss of control of the borders” resulting in an influx of asylum seekers.
Concerns over a slump in Labor’s primary votes to 35 per cent published by Newspoll is said to be the catalyst for the email to Mr Rudd.
“To state the obvious – our primary is in the mid-30s; we can’t win an election with a primary like that and the issue of asylum seekers is an enormous reason why our primary is at that low level,” Ms Gillard wrote in the email.
“It is an issue working on every level – loss of control of the borders feeding into a narrative of a government that is incompetent and out of control.
“As you know I have been raising this with a great deal of anxiety and I remain desperately concerned about lack of progress,” Ms Gillard wrote.
The never-before published email, sent to Mr Rudd and his chief of staff, Alister Jordan, is featured in a new book, Rudd, Gillard and Beyond, published next week.
According to The Australian, the book provides an insight into Ms Gillard’s mind on the eve of that leadership showdown.
The email also reveals Ms Gillard’s focus on addressing the government’s problems along with her fast-waning patience.
“I do not normally email you directly Kevin and I don’t intend to make it a habit,” Ms Gillard wrote.
Ms Gillard argued the government’s “key negative” in the eyes of voters was the failure of policies to halt the rise in asylum seekers, which was driving a “narrative” that the government did not need.
Although the email is highly critical of Mr Rudd and his office, and despairs at the government’s performance, there is no clear threat of a leadership challenge being imminent.
Two days later, however, Ms Gillard confronted Mr Rudd in his prime ministerial office and said she would challenge his position as Labor leader and prime minister.
On Thursday, June 24, 2010, Mr Rudd resigned as Labor leader and declined to stand in a caucus ballot to determine the leadership.
Ms Gillard ascended to the Labor leadership, and the prime ministership, unopposed.