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Rudd sympathises with former Vic premier Ted Baillieu

Kevin Rudd.
Kevin Rudd. Blainey Woodham

KEVIN Rudd knows better than most how former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu is feeling right now.

Mr Rudd, who was dumped as Labor Party leader just two-and-a-half years into his prime ministership, was in Melbourne on Thursday to speak at a population conference.

He opened his speech, which came less than 24 hours after Mr Baillieu bowed to mounting pressure and resigned, with some words of support for the former premier.

While their departures from their respective leadership roles were different, Mr Rudd said he felt empathy for Mr Baillieu, who had been in the job a little more than two years.

"It's never dull here in the politics of the people's republic of Victoria," Mr Rudd said.

"At a personal level ... could I say politics is a very difficult life and to Ted Baillieu and his family our best thoughts and wishes go through him to what is just a difficult day in one's life."

Later on Thursday new Victorian Premier Denis Napthine denied Mr Baillieu had been knifed by his own party, but had instead stepped down of his own accord.

Mr Baillieu's grip on the leadership had become increasingly flimsy, with his resignation coming on the same day Geoff Shaw quit the Liberal Party.

The week had also been dominated by stories regarding the Office of Police Integrity's probe into the resignation of former police commissioner Simon Overland.

Dr Napthine said he had not asked his "great friend" to step down, instead pledging his support for Mr Baillieu to remain in the job.

And he denied being tapped by party powerbrokers to stand for the leadership.

"I made the decision when it became absolutely clear that Ted Baillieu was stepping aside as leader of the Liberal Party and as premier," Dr Napthine said.

That decision was made mid-afternoon, he said.

Dr Napthine would not be drawn on whether Mr Baillieu's leadership had been become untenable.

"Ted Baillieu ... made his own decision to step down as leader of the Liberal Party," Dr Napthine said.

"Ted is a great friend, a great colleague and I have absolute affection for Ted Baillieu.

"Ted Baillieu is absolutely a giant among those who have served this state."

He denied he had entered discussions with Mr Shaw to return to the Liberal Party.

Topics:  kevin rudd liberal politics


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