Kevin Rudd has confirmed he will contest the Labor leadership on Monday and distanced himself from claims he has been undermining Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
In a media conference in Brisbane, Mr Rudd said criticisms of his management style from Labor colleagues and from some in business who had dealings with him were not borne out by Labor’s record in government while he was prime minister.
He said it was wrong to sheet all of the Gillard government’s problems home to ‘‘one K. Rudd’’ and recalled the two months when he was out of action after heart surgery.
He said the government went just as badly during his political layoff as it did at other times, showing it was not him supposedly destabilising the government that was behind its poor showing.
Journalists repeatedly asked him to predict the outcome of Monday’s ballot, in which he and Ms Gillard are the only confirmed candidates.
He declined, saying he would leave the numbers to others but confirmed he had colleagues in parliament lobbying and doing the numbers for him as he spoke.
Mr Rudd said the important thing for Labor was to work out who best could stave off Tony Abbott at the next federal election.
Mr Rudd called Mr Abbott ‘‘the most conservative’’ leader the Liberals had ever had.
He said he had made mistakes in parliament but had learned and reflected on ways to improve his performance.
He said the ALP should allow its members to elect their leader with a ‘‘truly secret ballot’’ without people ‘‘looking over their shoulder’’ in what he said was a ‘‘time-honoured tradition’’ in some sections of the Labor Party.
He said he was happy to go to the backbench if he lost Monday’s ballot.
He said he had always supported the government but said its historically low popularity ratings meant Labor MPs would be casting around for someone to replace Ms Gillard even if he wasn’t there to do so.
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