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LIVE BLOG: Labor Party leadership spill in Australia

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UPDATE: Kevin Rudd has not challenged prime minister Julia Gillard, and Australia’s Labor Party leader will continue in that role after winning a snap leadership spill.

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What a day in Australia!Australia Flag Icon

Simon Crean (pictured above), Australia’s minister for arts and regions, a former leader of the Australian Labor Party from 2001 to 2003, and a member of the Australia House of Representatives, has called for Australian prime minister Julia Gillard to call a leadership contest — known as a spill in Australian politics in a day that saw Gillard avoid a vote of no confidence by just a handful of votes after it was called by the opposition leader, Tony Abbott.

Gillard responded by calling a spill at 4:30 p.m. Sydney time (1:30 a.m. Washington DC time), taunting her rivals, ‘Give me your best shot.’

Crean has been relieved of his duties as a minister, and it’s unknown whether Kevin Rudd, the former prime minister and former foreign minister.

Gillard ejected Rudd as leader in 2010 after the Labor Party found his leadership to be dysfunctional and erratic before nearly losing the 2010 election to Abbott and the Coalition.

Rudd, who served as Gillard’s foreign minister, declared himself a candidate for the Labor leadership in February 2012, but lost that vote 71 to 31, and Gillard promptly sacked him from her cabinet.

The latest Morgan poll in Australia shows that the Coalition (Liberal/National) would win the next Australian election with 54.5% of the vote to just 45.5% for Gillard’s Labor Party.  Recent polls show that Rudd is by far the favorite among Australians to lead Labor, and polls show that a Rudd-led Labor would win the election.

The current election is scheduled for September 14.

So Gillard’s leadership has been under pressure for some time, especially after Labor lost ground in the recent state elections in Western Australia.

12:39 a.m.: No word yet on whether Rudd will even contest the spill, but it seems certain that such a sudden leadership spill won’t settle anything, especially if Rudd wins more than the 31 votes that he won 13 months ago. Continue reading LIVE BLOG: Labor Party leadership spill in Australia