The truth is, Rudd was impossible to work with. He regularly treated his staff, public servants and backbenchers with rudeness and contempt. He was vindictive, intervening to deny people appointments or preselections, often based on grudges that went back years.
He made crushing demands on his staff, and when they laboured through the night to meet those demands, they received no thanks, and often the work was not used. People who dared stand up to him were put in “the freezer” and not consulted or spoken to for months. The prodigious loyalty of his staff to him was mostly not repaid. He put them down behind their backs. He seemed to feel that everyone was always letting him down. In meetings, as I saw, he could emanate a kind of icy rage that was as mysterious as it was disturbing…
I have no idea of the precise moment at which [Gillard] decided to challenge Rudd, but I am certain that she had been as loyal a deputy as he was likely to get. Through the hard months of early 2010, she had long talks with him to keep him on track. Of all the whisperings I heard against Rudd until the time I left Canberra in April 2010, none involved her. In fact, she protected him. As one of her advisers said, they were ”joined at the hip”.
But she also knew what Rudd was like. In mid-2010, I imagine, she saw him spinning out, saw the polls, saw an election approaching, believed that in this climate his capacity for chaos was likely to grow rather than diminish. This was not about ambition. Sure she might have wanted to be prime minister one day, but not under these circumstances, not with the consequences that were bound to follow. But in politics you don’t get to pick your moment, it picks you. Hers came. She took it.