Opposition frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull has defended former prime minister Kevin Rudd and praised his vision, saying the Labor Party is still paying for his sacking.
In a much-anticipated encounter on ABC1's Q&A, Mr Rudd and Mr Turnbull dodged questions about returning to the leadership of their respective parties.
Polls have shown that many Australians would like to see Mr Rudd and Mr Turnbull going head to head at the next election.
But Mr Rudd was enigmatic when asked about any lingering leadership speculation, saying "leadership has a number of different forms," and that February's ballot loss to Prime Minister Julia Gillard "made things pretty clear."
"There was an opportunity to deliberate on these things in February and the Prime Minister won 2-1 against myself in the parliamentary party ballot," he said.
However, Mr Turnbull was more forthright, saying it was "a matter of complete bafflement" that the Labor Party has not reinstated Mr Rudd.
"Your mob poleaxed because you stood up to the factions, that's why they got rid of you," he told Mr Rudd.
"The faceless men couldn't put up with you anymore and that was a shocking betrayal."
I suspect the fact is that Rudd was impossible to work with— he had the temper of a blow fly and the attention span of goldfish while busying himslef like an annoying mozzie... But the media will carry on with its misrepresentation of the "facts" and of course Turnbull stirs the pot some more while adding salt into the wound. There was NO BETRAYAL and Rudd could have chosen to have a leadership vote then but he knew he would loose 100 per cent. So he has been resentlful vengeful and annoyingly disloyal ever since.
Note: it's likely that about a month before the election, Rudd will be brought back to fight Tony with glorious popular polls, then retired once more... Unless Julia can slowly claw Labor back up in the "opinion" polls...
Appearing on stage for a Lifeline fundraiser in Sydney today, former prime ministers Bob Hawke and John Howard appeared more like old friends instead of the political sparring partners they once were.
In the end, it all got too much for the event's compere Ray Martin, who eventually interjected: "With respect, I'm tired of you two agreeing with each other."
It prompted Mr Howard to suggest they move on to more controversial topics.
"What about gay marriage?" Martin asked to much laughter.
In what seems like their natural habitat, both former leaders are highbrow and erudite, more interested in ideas than point-scoring; the audience laps it up and urges them to reboot their own political careers. Even Kevin Rudd's once toxic mining super-profit tax is embraced with nostalgic warmth.
The love flows in from the Twittersphere, harking back to a golden age when we had leaders who really stood for something.
After all, who can imagine Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard in a civilised wide-ranging policy debate?
If only the world were a Q&A set. But the reality is it's a lot messier and the lighting isn't as complimentary.
While the climate sceptics in the Coalition ranks got Malcolm, his leadership had been in free-fall since he traded secrets with Godwin Grech and lost out, attempting one of the more ambitious political Hail Mary's in recent political history. Ultimately Kevin's campaign truck collected him.
At the point of defeat Turnbull's approval ratings looked eerily similar to the numbers of the man who has replaced him and is so unpopular he is deemed 'unelectable' by sections of the commentariat.
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