Gillard wins, but at what cost?

By Ian Wishart

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has survived a leadership challenge from former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, but the damage to the ALP appears terminal.

Caucus voted by a two thirds majority in favour of Gillard, but the overwhelming image left with Australian voters is of a nation, and a party, divided.

Under the terms of the challenge, Kevin Rudd is now confined to being a back-bench MP with no leadership aspirations ever again.

The crunch point for both administrations was climate change – ironically as the science of climate change begins to fall apart that’s had a direct impact on the popularity of Labor, and a direct boost on the popularity of the Opposition led by Tony Abbott.

Gillard’s victory today is pyrrhic, because although she has a majority support in caucus, public opinion polls showed even Rudd was more preferred than her among voters.

Labor now has no option but to unite behind Julia Gillard, or swiftly find a new untainted leader they can unite behind with a fresh look and vision.