Well it's good to be back home. It's good to be back home here in Queensland and it's good to be back home with Therese and the family.
These are important days for the country and so it's important that we have some plain speaking about our country's future.
What's our vision for Australia's future? Well mine hasn't changed one bit in all the years I've been in public life. My vision is very simple.
How do we prepare Australia for the huge challenges that we face in the future given the uncertain world in which we live, and how do we do so in a way which never ever throws the fair go, as I used to say, out the back door. That's what it's about. That's our vision. And in practical terms that guides my action in public life.
That's not Mr Abbott's vision for the future. It just isn't.
If I look at Mr Abbott it's like he's got his head buried in a different age - maybe the 19th century or maybe the first half of the 20th but certainly not the 21st.
But on top of that I also think of a Mr Abbott who was the Minister who oversaw the implementation of WorkChoices which is the biggest assault on the Australian fair go I think this country has ever seen.
So, the key question for us all is this - for the last 12 months Mr Abbott has been on track to become Prime Minister of Australia in a landslide.
It's not just in the last few days, not for just the last few weeks, not in the last few months - for the last 12 months. I think everyone knows that.
So, the core question for my Parliamentary colleagues and I believe for the Australian people, is who is best equipped to defeat Mr Abbott at the upcoming election but more importantly, to prevent him from inflicting his prescription on Australia's future? That's the core question.
In politics, as you know, trust and confidence is everything.
And it's critical that whoever leads our country has this trust and confidence of the Australian people.
So the core question for the members of the Australian Parliamentary Labor Party, the core question for the Australian people right now is whether they believe that the Prime Minister continues to have the trust and confidence of the Australian people.
Because if you don't have that, you know something? You can't do anything else. You just can't do anything else.
Ultimately, of course, this is not a question of personalities and who you like and dislike, it's a question of vision, of policy, and of trust and confidence in which all of that is constructed.
When I last spoke to the media, in a different continent, I outlined areas of core policy where I have a different view to that of the current Prime Minister - how we go about the core business of restoring business confidence and providing support for small business through tax reform; how we build Australian manufacturing industry in the future; how also on top of that we deal with the future reform of the health and hospital system.
Because that's core to families wherever you go in country, who frankly don't care about politics, they just want to know if the hospital system works. And you know, they're right to have that basic expectation.
Whether the education system in schools is delivering for their kids to face challenges which none of you in this room will face. The challenges of 10 and 20 years time - maths, science, languages - those things which will actually define whether our country has a future or not.
And of course in business closer to home for us, how to reform the Australian Labor Party so it is, as Australia's oldest continuing political party, not a creature of factions and power of factions and faceless men, but a party which responds to the people. The people.
And I suppose what I'd conclude on is, before I take what I anticipate might be a few questions, is this ultimately is a question of people power. Ultimately it's a question of people power.
Though I've just returned to Australia and I've not seen all the shenanigans of the last few days, it's quite plain to me that what I see from the faceless men is the same shock and awe tactics that I seem to remember being deployed during the leadership coup of June 2010.
That is, you deploy a whole bunch of people to go out there and launch a massive set of personality attacks in order to create this sense of inevitable momentum. And also on top of that, I begin to see reports in this morning's media about threats being made to individual MPs pre-selections. I don't think that's the Australian way.
And my appeal to the Australian Parliamentary Labor Party colleagues and to the Australian people is that this is a decision which requires very careful, careful thinking. You know, the Prime Ministership of this country is not something to be dealt with lightly. Certainly not something to be dealt with in a midnight coup which is what happened 18 months ago. It's something which affects everybody in this country.
And so, what I'm saying directly to the Australian people is if you have a strong view on the future Prime Ministership of the country then your power as the people is what will count in the days ahead. Pick up your telephone, speak to your local members of Parliament tell them what you think, jump into the media tell them what you think because this is your country. It doesn't belong to the factions of the Labor Party.
It's your country and where we go will therefore shape the challenges of small business down the road here in Tingalpa as much as it will shape the future of the economy at large. It will affect the local P&Cs and P&Fs. It will affect all those people meeting around their workplaces today wondering whether they're going to have to face WorkChoices Mark II.
So therefore, these are decisions which have to be taken very carefully. And so, when everyone gets a bit bamboozled by the shock and awe tactics of wow, here's an avalanche of attacks, Kevin Rudd is the Antichrist incorporated and if not the son of Satan then at least the grandson of Satan, just have a little pause for thought - it may not quite be like that - there might even be a vested interest in play in putting those views forward.
These are questions requiring careful deliberation decision and therefore I'd say to the Australian people, you're not powerless in this; you're very powerful and let's have your voice heard. Because the only way - the only way in which political change can occur within the Australian Labor Party is through the power of the people reflected through their local members of Parliament.
To conclude, my core challenge for the Prime Minister is this - I've seen the reports about individual MPs having their pre-selection threatened. This happened in the coup of June of 2010. In other words, you either vote for what the faction tells you or we'll knock you out of Parliament. That's un-Australian.
So, my challenge to the Prime Minister is to provide a public guarantee today that any sitting Member of Parliament in the House of Representatives and in the Senate will be guaranteed of their pre-selection again so that they have that fear removed from them. And having said those few things, I'll take a few questions.
QUESTION: Are you nominating on Monday Mr Rudd?
KEVIN RUDD: I said when I left the United States that I'd be making a statement on that on my return to Australia. I've been back in the country now for 30 minutes. My political opponents have had a good 24 hours and probably longer head start on me to talk to Parliamentary colleagues. I've spoken to a few, I've been very encouraged by that.
I will be making a statement definitively on this late today after I've spoken to my colleagues.
QUESTION: If you challenge on Monday and lose and go to the backbench will you remain a happy little vegemite there and not challenge again?
KEVIN RUDD: Well, we're going to deal with all those questions when we make a statement on the challenge itself but my view is pretty simple – you've just got to be upfront about being a candidate for the Australian Labor Party and not make, I think, unbelievable promises.
Let me just give you an example. I seem to remember someone putting their hand on their heart for about three months in the lead up to June of 2010 and saying that she would never ever challenge for the leadership of the Australian Labor Party. I do seem to remember that happening.
So, can I just say I'll address those things later on.
QUESTION: Mr Rudd, the Prime Minister…
KEVIN RUDD: Then to you Matthew.
QUESTION: The Prime Minister has asked you to categorically rule out another challenge if you put your hand up and you fail on Monday. Will you do that? She's done it, will you?
KEVIN RUDD: I'll address those questions when I make a statement on my future later today so just hold your horses.
QUESTION: Mr Rudd, the key charges against you from your opponents are that you sabotaged the 2007 election and that you ran a dysfunctional and chaotic government and that basically Julia Gillard had to cover your back for - during the dying days of your administration.
Did you leak or in any way sabotage the 2010 election? And is the Prime Minister's claim true that she had to prop you up?
KEVIN RUDD: Both of those claims are fundamentally untrue.
On the 2010 election, let's just call a spade a spade - I seem to remember that we had about five different campaign teams in that 2010 election which culminated in the revelation of the real Julia.
I also note for a fact that the party's fully independent review of the conduct of the 2010 election campaign has been kept under lock and key apart from that one chapter which apparently had something critical to say about me. That's the first point.
On the second point about the nature of the administration, can I just make a very simple point? How do you think, friends, that we all got through the global financial crisis? This was the most systematic effort in government administration involving Cabinet committees and sub-committees and working groups on every element of the economy down to the financial flows available to businesses and to the liquidity to the banks through to the overall need to provide guarantees for individual Australians' bank deposits.
How do you think we did that? A systematic set of Cabinet decisions and working groups which culminated in decisions that we took. These have been documented. So let's not get carried away with a hyperbole.
I will make one observation though, and it's been reported.
A question you should put to the Prime Minister is that when the final back-down on national health and hospitals reform occurred, did that occur on the basis of a full written Cabinet submission or a bit of an oral brief which was in fact partly misleading? I'd just put that question out there.
So, can I say…?
QUESTION: [Inaudible question]
KEVIN RUDD: I'll just leave that question for the Prime Minister to answer because it's a fair question.
Take another example, the National Broadband Network, it’s pretty fundamental to the future of the country, big item of government expenditure of some controversy in various parts of the Australian media. That was taken as the product of multiple meetings of the relevant Cabinet committees on all of the technological, cost and economic impact dimensions flowing from a decision worth tens of billions of dollars. This is a systematic exercise in public administration as have been all the key decisions of policy taken through my administration.
Can I just say, after the coup of June of 2010, do you think there might have been a bit of a vested interest on the part of some to post-facto, after the event, justify their actions in the coup by then demonising the guy who ran the country up until that point?
I'm not saying, and to answer your question Matthew, that I'm captain perfect. I've had a few things to say about that before. I think, measured against my predecessors in office - Prime Minister Keating, Prime Minister Hawke - I think we've all had a few flaws. You know, I'm among them. But you know, be very careful of the spin machine of the faceless men in basically a systematic campaign of character assassination in order to justify actions already taken for other purpose.
You haven't had a question.
QUESTION: Mr Rudd, a number of your ministerial colleagues have come out and publicly slammed you. If you do put your name forward to run, how are you going to win them over? How will you work with them and will you remove them from a ministerial portfolio?
KEVIN RUDD: Let me say this because I still have a statement to make later in the day about what I'll be doing precisely. But you know, when I look back on previous contests for the leadership of the Australian Labor Party, or for that matter the most recent one in the Liberal Party between Mr Costello - sorry, between Mr Turnbull and Mr Abbott, the public statements made by a whole bunch of ministers were not exactly full of friendship and cordiality either.
Let's have a bit of historical context here.
When you've got a big decision like the future of the party's leadership up for stake and people legitimately, and sometimes illegitimately, put forward passionate views. And what happens the day after is that the major political parties then bind together and bind themselves internally, I should say, to fight the next fight in the electoral contest. So let's just put that into its historical context.
The second thing is, you ask about the future of the Government. My view has always been that you need a government of all the talents.
Now, you want an example of that? In 2006 and 2007 when I became leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party and then Prime Minister, I had a whole bunch of people in senior positions who had campaigned viciously against my decision to run for the ALP leadership in December of 2006. What was my response? I put every one of them into senior positions within the Shadow Cabinet and maintained that during the transition to Cabinet.
I think it's important to look at a person's behaviour over time and how I've dealt with some of these challenges - because that was a pretty willing campaign.
QUESTION: You're saying you can work with Wayne Swan again?
KEVIN RUDD: Well my position with Mr Swan, despite some of the pretty colourful things that he's had to say in recent days, is that, you know, I think it's important to have a government of all the talents. And I think that's the right and responsible course of action. Because, you know, the country needs everyone pulling in the same direction and it doesn't mean that you're going to agree on everything but it means that you've got to pull things together.
I am however, you know, pretty disappointed by just the level of intense negativity and the basic shock and awe tactics that we've seen before.
One last question from Michael - Michael Gordon please because he hasn't asked a question - from The Age. And I know you're a long way south of the Tweed and the Murray but welcome to Queensland.
QUESTION: Thank you. On the night of the coup, were you given any commitment that you would be given more time to address the concerns of colleagues, a commitment that was subsequently broken?
KEVIN RUDD: That's correct.
What happened on the night of the coup in June of 2010 was a couple of things.
The first was, I had been given no prior notice by the deputy… then Deputy Prime Minister of her future course of action. I think we now know from the Four Corners program that that course of action had been anticipated for a while. And I think the Prime Minster's response to that question Four Corners said a lot.
In the discussions which occurred that evening, it was explicitly agreed in the presence of an impartial observer that we would work through those challenges, that she had then at that time for the first time put to me, and then revisit the question before the election was due later in 2010.
Ten minutes later Julia came back in the room and said all bets are off, that agreement doesn't hold, I'm challenging.
So can I just say in the fullness of history folks, there's a fair bit of shall I say retrospective reinvention of what's gone on. And I just conclude on this, because I do have to go and have a few moments with Therese - no one in politics is perfect. Sometimes we get things wrong. I'm like that, I've said some of the things I've got wrong. But you know we've got a hell of a lot of things right and there's many, many things still to be done for the country's future.
And so, I think these are important decisions for the days ahead, obviously. But I think what I'm saying to you loud and clear is that given the factional fire power of the faceless men and given the shock and awe tactics of negative assault that you see through the media today and in recent days, that it's very important for everyone in the Parliamentary party to sit back, take a deep breath, have a think about it.
But I'm saying also to the Australian people, you have a voice in this too. After all, the Prime Ministership of the country is something which is provided and gifted by the Australian people, not by the factions of the Australian Labor Party.