SYDNEY, Sept 12, 2013 (AFP) - Australia's former education minister Bill Shorten announced his candidacy for the Labor leadership Thursday, vowing to rebuild the party after years of infighting saw it toppled from power last week.
Shorten, a powerful and highly ambitious right-wing factional leader, said Labor could take back the government "if we are the party of ideas, not just personalities".
Even as he announced his bid to lead the party, a senior Labor figure said former leader Kevin Rudd, who was ousted as prime minister in national elections on Saturday and is facing pressure to quit politics entirely, was planning a comeback.
Ex-trade minister Craig Emerson, a staunch supporter of Rudd's predecessor Julia Gillard, said he had been told the 55-year-old wants to be prime minister again.
"Historians will note that Andrew Fisher served as a Labor prime minister on three separate occasions," he said Thursday in a column for The Australian newspaper titled: "Rudd wants to be leader again".
"Rudd has told three journalists at this newspaper that he wants to emulate Fisher and become a three-time Labor prime minister. He has described himself as a 'determined bastard'," Emerson wrote.
Rudd's popularity with the Australian public came crashing down on Saturday when he was soundly defeated in national elections by conservative Tony Abbott, as voters punished Labor at the ballot box for years of infighting.
He announced his resignation as Labor chief and pressure has been building on him to quit politics altogether amid concerns he would be a destabilising influence on the party and whoever takes over the top job.