Australian PM slaps gag order on MPs - report
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard Friday did not deny a report that she has ordered cabinet ministers not to talk to major newspaper editors in a bid to stamp out leadership speculation.
Friday 10 February 2012, 09:37AM
Gillard heads a fragile Labor coalition government after the party failed to win a majority in the August 2010 election and there is mounting speculation that Kevin Rudd, now foreign minister, could challenge her for the top job.
The prime minister removed Rudd in a brutal Labor Party room showdown in mid-2010 and the Sydney Daily Telegraph said a gagging order was issued at a cabinet meeting last week to try and hose down further leadership speculation.
The newspaper said ministers must now seek permission from the prime minister's office before any meeting or private talks with senior newspaper figures.
One minister cited by the paper said it appeared to be a deliberate attempt to "set up Rudd" by creating an excuse to sack him if he breached the cabinet directive.
"As a government we are out and about every day explaining what we are doing in the community," Gillard said Friday when asked about the report.
"We coordinate our expression of that message. We always have and we always will."
Last week, Gillard insisted she will lead Labor into the next election, due in 2013, even as a new poll showed she is less popular than Rudd.
Of the 1,400 voters surveyed in the Nielsen poll for Fairfax newspapers, 57 percent said they wanted Rudd as Labor leader against only 35 percent for Gillard.