Australian PM defiant under pressure over leadership

By REUTERS
February 19, 2012 04:50

 
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SYDNEY - Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard insisted on Sunday she was the right person to lead the country, dismissing as "gossip" talk of a possible leadership challenge from within her party after months of poor polls.

There have been repeated media reports Gillard may be challenged by the man she ousted as prime minister in an internal party coup in 2010, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd.

Rudd has denied such plans but Gillard backers this weekend closed ranks around the prime minister, publicly saying she was a better prime minister. At the same time an embarrassing video showing Rudd losing his temper and swearing while prime minister was posted anonymously on YouTube.

The speculation follows months of poor polls predicting a convincing victory for the conservative opposition in an election due by late 2013. One government member of parliament has publicly called on Gillard to step down amid reports of a potential backbench revolt.

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