Julia Gillard said the way she became prime minister in mid-2010 gave her a “long shadow” and steps were taken to “make that shadow darker and darker”.
In retelling the axing of the Rudd leadership on July 24, 2010, the ABC’s series The Killing Season has exposed that Ms Gillard thought Mr Rudd would be relieved to step aside.
“I still hoped that after the shock the immediacy of the hurt that over time he would actually feel some of the relief that would come with having the burdens of office off his shoulders,” she said.
Asked whether he felt relieved, Mr Rudd said: “Not at all but I imagine that’s the sort of thing an assassin does say”.
Ms Gillard said her prime ministership was dogged by the “long shadow” of how she came to power.
“I always had this long shadow from the way in which I became prime minister, and active steps were taken every day of my prime ministership to have that shadow become darker and darker, and not lighter and lighter,” she said.
Mr Rudd said it was “entirely possible” that he briefed journalists including Laurie Oakes that Ms Gillard had agreed to give him time to recover his leadership.
“It’s entirely possible, but just as it’s possible I spoke to a bunch of other journalists about it,” he said.
The next period was marked with damaging leaks about Ms Gillard while she attempted to win an early election to get a mandate to lead in her own right. She called the leaks “bastardry”.
“There is nothing that could lead you to expect, you know, bastardry of that magnitude,” she said.
Colleagues like Jaga Jaga MP Jenny Macklin were convinced Mr Rudd was behind the leaks, a claim he denied.
“There are 20 or 30 other people in the room … who would have known precisely what Julia’s position was,” Mr Rudd said.
As Ms Gillard’s community support slumped to below Mr Rudd’s lowest point, according to polls, she began to suspect he was configuring his appearances to sap her of attention.
But one of her former supporters, Mark Bishop said it was the leadership change that was “counterproductive” and Ms Gillard didn’t have the “persona or the authority that is necessary to do that job”.
Mr Bishop said he approached Mr Rudd about standing for leadership again.
After a long period of destabilisation from both leaders, Mr Rudd challenged for the leadership and lost the vote.
Heading into the next election in 2013, February’s polling looked “diabolical”, according to Labor powerbroker Sam Dastyari.
“Going into 2013, the numbers were diabolical in NSW,” he said. “We are losing the entire migrant vote in Western Sydney, and she (Ms Gillard) said to me, is this about Kevin?”
“I said, it’s not about Kevin, but it will become about Kevin.”
Later on polling from Victoria showed the vote was “really, really bad,” Mr Dastyari said.
The polling sparked a switch in loyalties among many Labor MPs, who voted to bring Mr Rudd back as Prime Minister to campaign for the 2013 election, which he lost.
“What became clear was that the parliament wasn’t big enough, or the caucus wasn’t big enough for both Julia and Kevin,” Rudd backer and former infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese said.
The Killing Season: The Long Shadow airs Tuesday 8.30pm on ABC