MEMBER for Corangamite Darren Cheeseman has called for Prime Minister Julia Gillard to step down.
But he has avoided media attention since making the shattering call.
Mr Cheeseman sent shockwaves through the Federal Labor Party declaring his party leader Julia Gillard was not the person to lead Labor to the next election.
Mr Cheeseman failed to return the Colac Herald’s calls yesterday but told major daily newspapers that Ms Gillard would “decimate” the Labor party if she continued to lead.
“Julia Gillard cannot take us to an election, she will decimate the party if she does,” Mr Cheeseman told The Sunday Age.
Mr Cheeseman also urged former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to return to the top job, saying his popularity was superior to Ms Gillard’s.
He said Mr Rudd would be better for the experience of his failed first term, which ended when he stepped aside and Ms Gillard took the party reigns and became Australia’s first female Prime Minister in 2010.
The move has been a back flip for Mr Cheeseman, whose Corangamite electorate is the most marginal in the country.
He had previously been a staunch supporter of Ms Gillard’s leadership.
He spoke to the Colac Herald earlier this month about his faith in the Prime Minister.
“I’m keen to continue to work with Julia,” Mr Cheeseman told the Colac Herald.
“I don’t get any sense at all of any leadership challenge and the media speculation is already starting to die down and I expect it will continue to die down,” he said.
Mr Cheeseman last year also said he was confident Ms Gillard would lead the Labor Party to the next election.
“Clearly it is a difficult political time but Julia Gillard is the right person to lead the party and she is driven by a long-term interest of the country,” he said in September.
Mr Cheeseman was also a driving force behind Ms Gillard’s leadership coup.
“I have been a very strong supporter of Julia Gillard – she has my upmost support and I am absolutely wrapped she is our first female prime minister,” he said in 2010.
Mr Cheeseman famously walked from the party room with Ms Gillard after her 2010 coup.
Corangamite Liberal Party pre-selection candidates Sarah Henderson and Rod Nockles were critical of Mr Cheeseman’s about-face.
“As far as I’m concerned the people of Corangamite would be appalled that at a time when we have major challenges that Darren Cheeseman is engaged in factional warfare rather than representing his constituents,” Mr Nockles said.
“Mr Cheeseman’s current condemnation of Prime Minister Gillard is extraordinary – he was one of the first Labor MPs to openly back Julia Gillard in her assassination of Kevin Rudd,” Ms Henderson said.