The following piece was published 8 September 2013, SBS World News Australia Radio.
By Ildi Amon
As the Labor Party licks its wounds after its crushing election loss, the soul-searching has begun.
And there have been plenty of Labor figures pointing to internal leadership squabbles as a key reason for the loss of voter support.
Ildi Amon reports.
Kevin Rudd says he accepts responsibility for Labor's election loss, and will be standing down as leader.
But even as he conceded defeat by the Coalition, he was claiming credit for leaving the party in a better position, more able to fight the next election.
"I will not be recontesting the leadership of the parliamentary Labor Party. The Australian people, I believe, deserve a fresh start with our leadership. I know this will not be welcome news to some of you. But my responsibility has been to maintain Labor as a fighting force for the future so we can unite behind the next leader of our party (cheering)."
Mr Rudd hasn't yet said whether he will remain as the member for the Brisbane seat of Griffith.
And there could be nervousness about him being on the backbench again.
Last time he went to the backbench after he was toppled by Julia Gillard, he declared that there were no circumstances under which he would recontest the leadership.
Later, he emerged to stage a successful counter-coup against her.
Outgoing Health Minister Tanya Plibersek, who has easily won re-election in the seat of Sydney, told the ABC she blames disunity for Labor's defeat.
"I'm really proud of what we achieved in our last term - more than 500 pieces of legislation through the parliament - but I think you have to acknowledge that the division that we've seen has been disastrous. I would give us nine out of 10 for governing the country. I would give us zero out of 10 for governing ourselves, and I think it's pretty plain that we had too many people playing their own games and not playing for the team."
Outgoing Minister for Employment Participation and Childcare Kate Ellis, who has retained the seat of Adelaide, says the Labor Party has some important lessons to learn.
"I think what is so unfortunate is that if we're honest about it we know that there was far less attention on those policy achievements because there was too much focus on ourselves and on our in- fighting. And I tell you right now that it is absolutely my intention to ensure that that stops and that me and my colleagues get on what the job and that is serving the people of Australia, making sure that we have greater opportunities, more fairness and greater services for our communities."
Former Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, who failed to win the Queensland seat of Forde, told Sky News voters were fed up with Labor's recurring leadership tussles.
"I had people repeatedly saying to me "look I really like you, I liked you when you were Premier, but I'm not going to vote for you because I'm sick of the fights in your Party." And I would say "look this has changed and Julia's (Gillard) gone and all the rest of it." They just thought, 'well, frankly that's what you tell me now what happens if you guys get back, you'll still fight about it'."
Former Treasurer Wayne Swan, who has retained his Queensland seat of Lilley, was sent to the backbench by Kevin Rudd after he became Prime Minister again.
Mr Swan's told Channel Nine he's not prepared to discuss his thoughts on the future of the Labor Party leadership.
"Well not ones that I'll be talking about on national television tonight...I think that's been one of the problems. There's been too much discussion of our internals, publicly. It's hurt us. People have punished us for internal division and for talking ourselves rather than talking about the people. And that's what we've got to do a lot more of. We've got to take that into account as we move forward."
But others were happier to discuss Labor's leaderhip.
Outgoing Minister for Education, Bill Shorten, says despite Labor's defeat, it was right for the party to switch back to Kevin Rudd as leader.
He told Sky News Labor's policies are still good but they need to be communicated more effecitvely.
"We believe there should be a price on carbon pollution, we believe in a fair go all round at work, we certainly believe that when it comes to funding schools - that's important - and six years of funding is better than the four that the Libs offer. It's also about better superannuation. So the key values of Labor don't change but certainly the way we express them and communicate them with people, we're going to have to rebuild some confidence and recognise, though, that many Australians did trust us today and for that we are very grateful."
And as the speculation begins as to who might replace Kevin Rudd as Labor leader one retiring Labor M-P has thrown one name into the ring.
Former Labor frontbencher Steven Smith has recommended Anthony Albanese.
"In different circumstances and possibly in these circumstances some people would look to a very successful, safe pair of hands who captures the heart and soul of the Labor Party in other words my good made Albo (Anthony Albanese). Now I don't know whether he wants to put his name forward, but he's had a very good campaign, he was a terrific leader of the House and a terrific Transport and Infrastructure Minister."
Others have been more direct in calling for more widespread renewal of the Labor Party.
Labor frontbencher Jason Clare says it's time for the party to put the past six years behind it.
"My view is, it's time for generational change and we need to put the Rudd and the Gillard era behind us. We've got to listen to what people have said. They've thrown us out tonight."