Knives already out as Labor bleeds
Blame game: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his wife Therese Rein leave their home in Brisbane. Photo: Harrison Saragossi
In a sign of bloodletting to come, only an hour before Kevin Rudd announced he would not contest the Labor leadership, Home Affairs Minster Jason Clare called on the Prime Minister to quit as leader for the good of the party.
Mr Clare, who switched his support from Julia Gillard to Mr Rudd in the final weeks leading up to the June leadership coup, said it was "time for generational change".
"We need to put the Rudd and the Gillard era behind us," Mr Clare, who will retain his western Sydney seat of Blaxland, told Channel Ten. "We've got to listen to what people have said. They've thrown us out tonight. They've said they don't want us to run the country."
In the spotlight: George Wright has been blamed for Labor's poor result. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Describing Labor's leadership turmoil as a "dance of death between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd", Mr Clare declared it was up to "people like me" to build the basis of a new government and "earn the people of Australia's respect".
His comments came as recriminations began inside the Labor Party, with outgoing Northern Territory senator Trish Crossin calling for the head of national secretary and campaign director George Wright.
The veteran senator, whose career ended when Ms Gillard exercised her "captain's pick" to replace her with Nova Peris, took to Twitter before polls closed, declaring: "If we see a massive defeat tonight then George Wright has to go."
While Mr Wright's position will be the target of criticism, much of the post-campaign focus will be on the extent to which Mr Rudd dictated election strategy and tactics, and refused to take advice from campaign headquarters.
Former power broker-turned commentator Graham Richardson branded the Labor campaign a "disaster", saying Mr Wright was competent, but lacked the strength or "oomph" to "get over someone like Kevin Rudd, let alone a Julia Gillard".
Mr Rudd stands accused of a series of misjudgments, including proposing the "a new way" slogan for the campaign that prompted Opposition Leader to Tony Abbott retort: "The only way to have a 'new way' is to choose a new government."
The recruitment of former Queensland premier Peter Beattie to contest a Coalition-held seat in Brisbane is seen as another example, with Mr Beattie conceding early in the count that he faced a "bloody difficult" task to win.
Bill Shorten, the clear front-runner to become the next Labor leader, has refused to be drawn on whether he wants the job of rebuilding the Labor brand after the defeat.
"I will not entertain discussion about Coalition success," Mr Shorten said, amid heightened speculation that he will assume the leadership as early as next week.
Having lost the campaign, the election and good deal of talent, Labor faces the massive task of rebuilding and reconnecting with an electorate that has punished it for being unstable and divided.
Along with deputy leader, Anthony Albanese, Mr Shorten was one of Labor's better performers during a campaign that saw the party go backwards in the polls over the five weeks.
Labor insiders say their only hope out of a dismal election is that the party can draw a line under three years in which Mr Rudd was torn down and then return to the job after Ms Gillard suffered the same fate.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek is normally one of the more reserved Labor ministers but she has given Labor zero marks for its disunity.
"I'm really proud of what we achieved in the government ... I think you have to acknowledge that the division that we've seen has been disastrous," she told ABC TV.
"I would give us 9/10 for governing the country. I'd give us 0/10 for governing ourselves.
"I think it's pretty plain we had too many people playing their own games and not playing for the team."
Ms Plibersek would not "point fingers" about who was to blame here.
When asked if Mr Rudd should stand down, she said these were matters for "next week or the week after".
"I think the clear takeout from this defeat is disunity is death," she said.
Surprisingly, Ms Plibersek also added: "I think we would have won the 2007 election with Kim Beazley."
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/knives-already-out-as-labor-bleeds-20130907-2tcaa.html#ixzz2eI46ffB9