Monday, July 16, 2012


AAP July 16, 2012, 11:15 pm
Federal government whip Joel Fitzgibbon says Kevin Rudd returning to the Labor leadership in 2012 is "unlikely" but he's refused to guarantee Julia Gillard will lead the party to the next poll.
Mr Fitzgibbon, who has faced claims he's been campaigning to have the prime minister replaced by Mr Rudd, again fuelled leadership speculation on Monday night when he pointedly noted that populism matters in politics.
"No matter what political party you are talking about if leaders remain unpopular long enough they'll inevitably stop leading the party," Mr Fitzgibbon said on ABC TV.
Mr Fitzgibbon in late May took to Twitter to declare his support for the prime minister after newspaper reports suggested he'd begun urging his caucus colleagues to get behind Mr Rudd.
Ms Gillard and Labor have been languishing in the opinion polls since she took over from Mr Rudd in mid-2010.
On Monday night Mr Fitzgibbon refused to guarantee Ms Gillard would lead Labor to the next election but said he wanted her to "and I think she will".
Asked why senior Labor figures were still doing the numbers for Mr Rudd the whip said: "I'm not sure they are."
"The reality is Julia Gillard has plenty of time between now and the next election," Mr Fitzgibbon said.
"I believe her polling numbers will improve and I'm very hopeful they'll improve and I'll be very pleased when they do."
Asked if Mr Rudd returning to the leadership in 2012 was completely out of the question Mr Fitzgibbon said: "I think it's unlikely."
But he noted that a week was a long time in politics and in the current environment "six months is an eternity".
The next federal election is due by late 2013.

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