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Local MPs back Rudd

All Smiles: PM Kevin Rudd in August 2009 at Lismore Base Hospital where his  All Blacks tie became center of attention.
All Smiles: PM Kevin Rudd in August 2009 at Lismore Base Hospital where his All Blacks tie became center of attention. Jacklyn Wagner

PAGE MP Janelle Saffin has rejected Prime Minister Julia Gillard's attack on Kevin Rudd's time as Labor leader.

Ms Saffin, along with Richmond MP Justine Elliot, who was Minister for Ageing under Mr Rudd, yesterday both said they would support the former Prime Minister in a leadership ballot.

However, Ms Saffin warned it was time for Labor MPs to stop publicly discussing the issue and handing the Opposition ammunition.

During a press conference to announce the Labor leadership would be put to a ballot on Monday morning, Ms Gillard variously described Labor under Mr Rudd as having been "chaotic", "paralysed", and "dysfunctional".

Ms Gillard's comments followed criticism and invective from several senior cabinet ministers, among them Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan, Regional Development Minister Simon Crean, Health Minister Tanya Plibersek, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and Trade Minister Craig Emerson.

However, Ms Saffin disagreed with the Prime Minister.

"I didn't see it like that," she said.

"My view is the less they (Labor MPs) say on any side ... the better."

Ms Saffin said the people responsible were only now starting to tell the story behind their decision, when they should have done it at the time.

Ms Saffin and Ms Elliot both said people in their electorates were telling them they wanted Mr Rudd back in the driver's seat.

"It's clear people across Page - not all of them but most - overwhelmingly they still support him and see Kevin Rudd as a leader and the best person to lead us into an election," Ms Saffin said.

"People have been saying that to me every day since it happened (Mr Rudd's dumping) in 2010 and I'm out everywhere in the electorate doing things."

It was a similar story in Richmond.

"Locals have been telling me that they want Kevin Rudd to lead the Labor Party," Ms Elliot said in a statement.

"I believe that Kevin Rudd is the best person to lead the Labor Party and I will be voting for him if he is a candidate in Monday's ballot."

Other supporters for Mr Rudd began emerging among Government ranks yesterday. However, Ms Gillard and her supporters have said she is expected to win Monday's ballot easily.

Ms Gillard said if she did lose the vote she would renounce all claim on the leadership and go to the backbench and called on Mr Rudd to make the same commitment.

Ms Saffin said that was something for Mr Rudd to decide.

Topics:  australian labor party, julia gillard, kevin rudd


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