TRANSCRIPT: INTERVIEW WITH DAVID KOCH, SUNRISE
TRANSCRIPTION: PROOF COPY E & OE
DATE: 27 FEBRUARY 2012
TOPICS: Labor leadership.
DAVID KOCH: Defence Minister Stephen Smith is a Julia Gillard supporter. That was Kevin Rudd saying he would not resign from the party. Stephen Smith, are you a bit disappointed in that? Do you think Kevin Rudd should resign if he loses the Caucus vote today?
STEPHEN SMITH: Absolutely not. He's made it clear that he'll go to the backbench, and that is appropriate. Kevin is a former Prime Minister, and he's entitled to continue as a long serving member of the party and I have never previously heard or seen the suggestion that he do anything else. So of course it is appropriate. I think the Prime Minister today will have a convincing win, and in that context, it is appropriate that as Kevin said, he will go to the backbench. But the most important thing about today is just to move on, to put this leadership contest behind us and get on with the job of governing the country.
DAVID KOCH: Kevin Rudd has said if he loses, and it is likely he will today, he will go to the backbench; He will not challenge the leadership, he will give his full support to Julia Gillard. Do you trust him? Do you believe him?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well I take that at face value. When Kevin became leader in December 2006 he said that because we were 12 to 18 months away from an election that they had to be zero tolerance to ill-discipline, and the same rule as to apply and I think that my Caucus colleagues, irrespective of whether they vote for Kevin or for the Prime Minister, will take a dim view of any ill discipline. But Kevin said he's going to go to the backbench, and I think it's very important that not only that after today we get behind the Prime Minister, they get behind the Government- but we also understand that this is it so far as leadership is concerned for this Parliament. That's the end of the question.
DAVID KOCH: Your name has come up as an alternative if there was to be a second leadership spill- would you ever consider running for Prime Minister?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well, it's not going to happen. The Prime Minister has my strong support I've made that clear, and also I don't agree with the analysis that said that we have no chance prospect of winning the next election. There's an opinion poll out today it is the second one in the course of a week which shows us that 47/53. That’s a better position than at various times when we saw the Hawke, Keating, Howard Governments. So, if we get some clear air, if the Prime Minister is given a fair go, then she will be, and we will be, very competitive when it comes to the real contrast, the real leadership choice, which is the Prime Minister versus Tony Abbott and I’ve always been confident that in that context, Tony Abbott will be found wanting.
DAVID KOCH: All right, Stephen Smith, appreciate your time on this big day.