Julia Gillard has accused Kevin Rudd of bullying her, in a new documentary which explores the tension between the Labor rivals.

The first episode of the three-part series, The Killing Season (ABC TV 8.30pm AEST, June 9), coincides with the fifth anniversary of Mr Rudd’s removal as prime minister and second anniversary of his reinstatement.

In the first part the program, journalist Sarah Ferguson explores the way in which Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard seized the leader and deputy leader roles from Kim Beazley and Jenny Macklin.

Ms Gillard, who was in charge of parliamentary tactics as manager of opposition business in 2006, says Mr Rudd had always been anxious to “strut his stuff” in question time but was often denied this opportunity because Beazley was leader.

On one occasion after being left out of Labor’s parliamentary tactics, Rudd “physically stepped into my space”, says Ms Gillard.

“And it was a quite bullying encounter. It was a menacing, angry performance,” she says.

Mr Rudd tells the program: “That is utterly, utterly false.”


He said he never got angry with Gillard, including “the night that she marched into the office to announce the coup”.

On that occasion Mr Rudd recalled saying to his soon-to-be successor: “Julia, you are a good person. Why are you doing this?”

Ms Gillard said she thought the “I must be in the media” side of Mr Rudd would fall away when he became leader.

She also revealed she gave Mr Rudd an undertaking he would get a second go at winning government if the 2007 campaign to unseat John Howard had failed.

“Kevin wanted to know he would be supported for more than one shot and I was prepared to say that,” Ms Gillard says.

Former minister and union boss Greg Combet tells the program he thought the idea of toppling Mr Beazley was wrong, so soon after the failure of Mark Latham as leader.


“I had the shits big time,” Mr Combet says.

“I thought: `F*** this, I’m sick of it’.”

Mr Rudd praises Ms Gillard for her work during the global financial crisis.

“What I wanted to happen longer term was for Julia to replace me as Australia’s first female prime minister,” he says.

The final part of program looks at the GFC, which Mr Rudd managed by creating what became known as the “gang of four” ministerial group comprising himself, Ms Gillard, then-treasurer Wayne Swan and then-finance minister Lindsay Tanner.

Ms Gillard says that after the GFC she often discussed with Mr Swan the need to move to a “more regular” decision-making style.


However, Mr Rudd says Ms Gillard “enjoyed and liked the relative secrecy” of the group.

Ms Gillard also says her talks with Mr Swan in 2009, before she seized the leadership in June 2010, were often about “managing Kevin”.

“None of them were leadership discussions about replacing Kevin.”