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Combet-Gillard leadership deal

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Former Labor minister Greg Combet says Julia Gillard offered to step aside for him in the 2013 leadership ballot against Kevin Rudd.

The former climate change and industry minister has told the ABC’s 7.30 program he asked to speak to Ms Gillard privately before the 2013 election.

“Obviously the government was in a lot of trouble and Julia Gillard was in trouble at that time,” Mr Combet said.

“I actually asked to speak to her privately and expressed my thoughts about what I thought needed to happen.

“I thought that there needed to be a caucus ballot for the leadership to resolve the issue once and for all.

“We couldn’t have had two leaders going to the election fighting Tony Abbott, which was the situation we were in, and Julia surprised me at that discussion by suggesting that she would support me.

“She would stand down in favour of me if I stood.”

Mr Rudd defeated Ms Gillard 57-46 in the June 2013 spill to reclaim the prime ministership after three years of party instability sparked by his initial ousting in 2010.

Asked if he could have triumphed over Mr Rudd, Mr Combet replied: “Well, who knows? I don’t know. Possibly.”

Mr Combet retired from politics after Ms Gillard was replaced by Mr Rudd, citing personal reasons.

Mr Combetand five other Gillard government ministers tendered their resignation after the spill.

At the time, he said his departure from politics had nothing at all to do with the change of leadership but the spill was the catalyst for his decision.

Labor ended up holding 55 seats following the last-minute switch to Mr Rudd, and the Tony Abbott-led Coalition took Government.

Ms Gillard will next week launch the memoir of Mr Combet, who previously headed up the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

Treasurer Joe Hockey today launched his biography, which has provoked some disquiet among his Coalition colleagues.

The book canvasses Mr Hockey’s leadership aspirations, tension with cabinet colleagues and his preference for an even tougher budget than the one delivered in May.

You can watch the full interview with Greg Combet on 7.30 tonight.