Interviewed on Sky News, she said “Anyone who believes they should be leader of the Labor Party, they need to put their name forward. Now. This is it.”

Going one step further, she said the loser of the ballot should exit politics altogether, and said she would do that if she lost the vote.

However, she said she was confident, adding: “I wouldn’t be putting myself forward unless I had a degree of confidence about the support of my colleagues.”

When asked about rumours that Rudd has circulated a petition to oust her, Gillard referred to it as the “Loch Ness monster” petition. “I haven’t seen this petition. Call me old fashioned but the way in which these things are normally done is a challenger approaches the leader of the Labor Party and asks them to call a ballot for the leadership, they shake hands, and then a ballot is held. That hasn’t happened.”

Kevin Rudd said: “Many many MPs have requested me for a long long time to contest the leadership of the party because of the parlous state in which we find ourselves in. For the nation’s sake, I think it’s time this issue was resolved.”

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