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Australian Current Affairs

Australia: Kevin Rudd reignites leadership speculation with barefoot bowls tournament


Kevin Rudd Barefoot Bowls

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at Coorparoo Bowls Club yesterday with staff from his Griffith electorate

It is a rollback to the heady days of Kevin07.

More than five years after Kevin Rudd filled television screens and Facebook pages from dusk until dawn in his campaign for The Lodge, the self-described “humble” backbencher is again reigniting leadership speculation with a blitz of mainstream and social media.

As Julia Gillard jetted-off for bilateral talks in New Zealand, her predecessor filled the vacuum with an appearance on morning television, before delivering a speech critical of progress in indigenous affairs, and ended the day by hosting a barefoot bowls tournament for young people in his electorate.

It follows a marked increase in Mr Rudd’s public profile, with his appearance last week in newspapers, chainsaw in-hand and helping in the clean-up after the floods and the tweet of him playing with his granddaughter.

ALP insiders yesterday said Mr Rudd had held discussions with a number of MPs loyal to Ms Gillard, including several from Queensland, in recent days in a bid to “rebuild relationships”.

“He isn’t asking for their support, he is discussing policy but there is little doubt among them that he is testing the waters,” a senior ALP source said.

“If he learnt anything from his time as leader, it is that he has to treat people better and he is trying to rebuild relationships.”

Mr Rudd is also moving to shore up support within his own Brisbane electorate of Griffith, which he holds with a hefty margin of 8.5 per cent, after the Liberal National Party preselection of high-profile medical specialist Bill Glasson. Dr Glasson, the former president of the Australian Medical Association, is playing Mr Rudd at his own game — hosting the same meet-and-greet street stalls and bombarding social media about the former prime minister’s regular absences from the electorate while overseas.

While the battle for Griffith is heating-up, with both parties expected to pour resources into the contest, Mr Rudd yesterday had to contend with being publicly rebuffed by School Education Minister Peter Garrett.

Mr Rudd used a speech at NSW Government House yesterday morning to lament the lack of progress in closing the gap in indigenous literacy and numeracy and canvassing the idea for an indigenous education summit.

“As a backbencher, I put forward ideas from time to time — I’m passionate about indigenous Australia, I love to see these lives being changed, all Australians do, but when there is a problem and the data suggests there is one, it’s important to put it on the table and find out a way forward.”

Mr Garrett later said the solution to disadvantage in indigenous education would not come from talking.

Source: The Australian – “It’s (rollback) time as Kevin13 bowls ’em over”
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