“I’ll be stuffed if I’ll be tweeting.”
That was ex-cabinet minister Greg Combet’s gruff response when asked by then prime minister Julia Gillard to increase his online presence.
And he didn’t say “stuffed”.
The New Daily will publish an exclusive extract from Greg Combet’s A new memoir, The Fights of My Life, on Wednesday.
“The word used … was more earthy,” Ms Gillard said at the launch of Mr Combet’s book in Sydney on Tuesday.
The memoir, co-written by journalist Mark Davis, recounts Mr Combet’s life, including his time heading the ACTU and his six years in parliament.
The book made news before its launch over revelations Ms Gillard offered Mr Combet the leadership of the Labor party in a bid to thwart Kevin Rudd’s comeback.
“There came a time when it became clear to me that my leadership was likely to come to an early end,” Ms Gillard said.
“My belief that the nation and the political party needed to be led by someone with good values and a clear sense of purpose remained strong.
“It was not to be.”
Trades Hall was packed with current and former Labor luminaries, including former prime minister Bob Hawke, deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek, Craig Emerson, John Faulkner and Penny Wong.
In his book, Mr Combet reveals his desire to leave parliament by the time of Ms Gillard’s approach, as well as his battles with cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, which contributed to a degree of physical pain during Labor’s second term.
Defending the achievements of the government, Mr Combet said an emissions trading scheme was the most environmentally effective way of reducing carbon emissions.
Like the theme of his career and book, Mr Combet said important reforms had to be fought for.
“That’s one of the messages of my book,” he said.
“When I’m out on the street and people say they don’t like (Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s budget) … well, you’ve got to stand up and fight,” he said to applause.
“There’s no point moaning about it. You’ve got to stand up, join together and bring about change.”