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Julia Gillard Claims Physical Bullying Encounter With Kevin Rudd

ABC's new documentary The Killing Season reveals the wounds are still raw from the bloodiest era of modern Australian politics.

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"It's a big emotional thing to do, to challenge the leadership of your political party," says former prime minister Julia Gillard. "There's nothing pleasant about it, there's nothing fun about it. It's quite a horrible, gut-wrenching process."

Mark Nolan / Getty Images

And judging by the first episode of the new ABC documentary The Killing Season, it's still very emotional today, five years after Julia Gillard's very public "knifing" of Kevin Rudd in June 2010.

Kevin Rudd was notorious for his bad temper. A video of him swearing while filming an announcement was posted anonymously on YouTube in 2012, and he reduced a RAAF flight attendant to tears over an in-flight meal in 2009.

View this video on YouTube

Journalist David Marr has described him as "a politician with rage at his core, impatient rage."

But this is the first time we've heard from Julia Gillard about being at the receiving end of the famous Rudd rage.

Julia Gillard recollects a time when she was manager of opposition business. When a tactics meeting didn't go Kevin Rudd's way, he confronted her afterwards.


In the documentary, Kevin Rudd is silent with rage upon hearing the bullying accusation and then dismisses her claim as a lie.

"Utterly false," he says. "Utterly, utterly false."

Watching the interview, you get the feeling that if he was holding a glass at that moment, it would have shattered in his hand.

Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard worked together to overthrow Kim Beazley as Labor leader in 2006. Deputy opposition leader Jenny Macklin stood aside to allow Julia Gillard to take her role.

William West / Getty Images

"I knew Julia wasn't going to stop. She would continue until she won," recalls Macklin.

The episode ends with Kevin Rudd relaying the moment she stepped into his office to ask him to resign. "I said to her repeatedly, 'but Julia you're a good person. Why are you doing this?'"

Scott Barbour / Getty Images

The first installment covers a lot of familiar ground for political junkies, but the visible enmity that still exists between Rudd and Gillard makes it well worth a watch.

The Killing Season: The Prime Minister and his Loyal Deputy, goes to air on Tuesday June 9 at 8:30pm on ABC and on ABC iView.