Kevin Rudd resigns as Foreign Minister
KEVIN Rudd has quit as Foreign Minister and return to Australia tonight before an expected challenge to Julia Gillard next week.
Mr Rudd announced his decision to quit from Washington.
“I am sad to leave this office but sadder still that it has come to this,” Mr Rudd said.
“The last time I resigned from office was when I resigned as prime Minister of Australia.
He said there were now similar facts at play.
“It is time for plain speaking on this,” Mr Rudd said from Washington at a press conference called at 1am.
“I can only serve as foreign minister only if I have the confidence of Prime Minister Gillard and senior ministers.
Mr Rudd cited the attacks on him by cabinet colleagues Simon Crean and those he described as “faceless men”.
“When challenged on these attacks, the Prime Minister chose not to repudiate them. I cant only conclude she shares those views,” Mr Rudd said.
“The only honourable thing, the only honourable course of action is to resign.”
In a signal that he intends to challenge for the leadership, Mr Rudd said: “I will never be party to a stealth attack on a sitting Prime Minister elected by the people. We know it was wrong and it must never happen again.”
“Australia must be governed by the people, not the factions.”
Mr Rudd will return home tomorrow before deciding over the weekend whether to challenge for the leadership when Parliament resumes next week.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says the resignation of Kevin Rudd as foreign minister confirms that the government is unworthy to continue in office.
"Kevin Rudd has confirmed two things - that the faceless men are running the Labor Party and that the instability at the top of this government is damaging our country,'' Mr Abbott said in a statement.
"Kevin Rudd's statement tonight confirms that this government is unworthy to continue in office."
Mr Abbott said only the coalition can provide the strong and stable government that will address the issues facing our country and restore hope, reward and opportunity for all Australians.
Key independent MP Tony Windsor said should Mr Rudd become prime minister again, it would most likely lead to an early election.
And if Mr Rudd did try to command a majority on the floor of parliament, he could not rely on Mr Windsor's support.
"If the Labor Party suddenly want to change arrangements in the middle of the stream all bets are off," Mr Windsor told Sky News.
"I'm not going to place myself in the middle of some sort of Fantasy Glades (a theme park) game that's going on and expect to just keep endorsing people whoever the revolving door produces.
"I did a deal with the current prime minister."
Mr Windsor said the negotiations he and fellow independents Rob Oakeshott and Andrew Wilkie held in 2010 on who should form government were with Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott and no one else.
"If one of those parties wants to suddenly change that and act as though they have a majority in the House of Reps that's fair enough," he said.
"But they can't count me in on playing that game."
Mr Windsor said Ms Gillard was doing a good job as prime minister and negotiating Labor's legislation through the parliament.
He said changing prime minister was a high risk strategy that would most likely to lead to an early election "which would only advantage the coalition, probably".
Canberra Lower house MP Bob Katter declined to comment, with his office saying he was focused on the Queensland state election.
"In response to inquires regarding the federal Labor leadership, please note that Bob is not one of the crossbenchers who delivered the present government, nor is he interested in the machinations of other parties," a spokeswoman said.