Howard demands PM ‘come clean’ on Rudd

Former prime minister John Howard says Julia Gillard has no right to hide the details surrounding her ascension to the top office.

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The second longest serving prime minister also criticised Ms Gillard’s predecessor, Kevin Rudd, for dodging questions about his axing.

Mr Howard was in the marginal West Australian metropolitan seat of Hasluck on Monday, campaigning with Liberal candidate Ken Wyatt.

He showed he has lost none of his enthusiasm for party politics and election campaigns, eagerly shaking hands with voters as he toured a shopping centre, having pictures taken with women and being flocked by teenagers.

At one point Mr Howard approached a woman opening up her clothing store with his arm extended saying: “No-one escapes the former prime minister’s handshake”.

Accompanied by Liberal frontbencher Julie Bishop and Mr Wyatt, who is seeking to become the first Aboriginal member of the House of Representatives, Mr Howard also unexpectedly dropped into an optometrist to get his glasses cleaned.

Talking to journalists, Mr Howard criticised Ms Gillard for her role in the ousting of Mr Rudd, saying it had left voters confused and resentful.

“People, most particularly, people who voted Labor last time and perhaps had for the first time, are quite confused,” he said.

“The great problem is we have people resenting what they see as the democratic process as being interfered with.

“They don’t like this idea of behind the scenes operators.”

The Prime Minister has been accused of reneging on a deal which would have seen Mr Rudd stay on until October and resign if his unfavourable polls had not improved.

Ms Gillard has said she will never disclose any conversations she had with Mr Rudd prior to the Labor Party leadership spill in June.

According to Mr Howard, the public have a right to know what happened.

“Julia Gillard said she’s going to take the conversation to her grave,” he said. “Seeing as though these were material to an overnight change of the leadership of the country, I’m not sure she has a right to.

“I would have thought the public has a right to know something like that.”

Mr Howard also slammed Mr Rudd for thinking he was “immune from being closely questioned” about those events.

He said it would be interesting to see whether Mr Rudd believed, as the prime minister said, that the government had lost its way.

“Rudd’s approach is `I choose not to answer any embarrassing questions, difficult questions’,” he said.

“Shouldn’t Laurie Oakes or somebody go to him (and say): ‘Kevin Rudd, do you feel your government lost its way’?”

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