Key cabinet ministers in the Kevin Rudd government did not want a leadership change when factions pushed for Julia Gillard to be installed in 2010.
A report by The Australian revealed cabinet ministers at the time said the leadership transition would be a ‘mistake’ and a ‘tragedy’ for the party, but was made possible by a caucus panic.
The report alleged a weak and immobilised Labor cabinet was swamped by faction chiefs, and when Ms Gillard’s challenge was established, ministers “fell into line”.
Former Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said it was the priority of the Rudd cabinet for Kevin Rudd to stay as prime minister.
“Wayne (Swan) and I agreed a leadership change would be a mistake. This was the view of everybody in cabinet that I spoke with,” Mr Smith said.
Labor Senate leader Chris Evans, who was later a strong supporter of Julia Gillard, also said he did not support a leadership challenge.
“I didn’t think this was a good idea. Despite my concerns with Rudd, I felt this was an enormous step. I was deeply worried,” Mr Evans said.
“There is no doubt as far as I’m concerned these events destroyed both Kevin and Julia. Our inability to recover meant the government was doomed.”
Many cabinet members, including former ALP leader Simon Crean and former finance minister Lindsay Tanner, said they believed Kevin Rudd could have won the 2010 election.
Former senior Labor figures said they believed leadership spill tarnished Julia Gillard’s stint as prime minister and destroyed the Labor Party.