Feb. 24 - Kevn Rudd says he will fight Julia Gillard for leadership of the Labor Party, bringing to a head a bitter fight engulfing Australia's minority government. Arnold Gay reports.
Let me finish the job. Former Australian premier Kevin Rudd put to rest any doubts about his leadership intentions Friday, saying PM Julia Gillard has lost the trust of the people. SOUNDBITE (English) FORMER AUSTRALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER KEVIN RUDD SAYING: "I want to restore that trust. That's why I have decided to contest the leadership of the Australian Labor Party, at the ballot in the caucus of the Australian Labor Party on Monday. I want to finish the job the Australian people elected me to do when I was elected by them to become prime minister." Rudd was ousted from the top job by Gillard in 2010, after a series of policy missteps and unhappiness over his leadership style. Gillard responded with her trademark fiestiness, pointing to her track record of pushing through tough laws to take Australia into the future. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER JULIA GILLARD SAYING: "Big reforms can be politically costly. You've got to work out if you believe in those big reforms, whether you've got the courage, the method, the discipline, the purpose to go out and get them done. Well, I'm someone with plenty of courage, I'm someone with plenty of discipline; I'm someone who gets up everyday and does it all again no matter how hard the going is, that is who I am. I've brought all of those skills in 2011 in order to get big reforms done like carbon pricing. And I understand the political cost of those reforms and I also understand the benefit. We will be a nation with a clean energy future because I got that done last year." Rudd remains more popular with voters, but Gillard had strong words for her former foreign minister whom she says has worked to undermine the government. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER JULIA GILLARD SAYING: "I 'm happy to show the courage in the face of those political slings and arrows, I think that's politics as usual. What shouldn't happens in politics as that you shouldnt be dragged down by someone who is on your own side, who today is unable to deny that there have been conversations, locked behind closed doors, talking to people and undermining the government." Rudd maintains he had supported Gillard and the government throughout his time as foreign minister. The current leadership crisis was prompted by poor opinion polls which show the government would be decimated at the next election by the opposition Conservative Party led by Tony Abbott. Australian election is due in 2013. Arnold Gay, Reuters.