Gray still confident of victory

In a telephone interview just hours after Mr Rudd was sworn in as Prime Minister yesterday morning, Mr Gray said the mood in Parliament was positive and confirmed he had accepted Mr Rudd’s almost immediate request that he retain his portfolios of Resources and Energy, Small Business and Tourism.

‘People get on with life and the business before Parliament. I made it very clear publicly my position of support for Julia Gillard and how I voted. When caucus votes you accept the decision and move on and that reflects across caucus. There is a more buoyant feeling today,’ he said.

‘I think (Julia Gillard) took the right decision. She took it herself. She did not seek my advice or counsel.

‘We all have to be settled with that decision. The leadership of a political party is a matter for them, the composition of the party is a matter for voters.’

He said he knew some of his local constituents would find his willingness to work with Mr Rudd difficult because he spoke so hard against a change of Prime Minister.

‘Most people’s take on a leadership poll is at a visceral level. We need to give consideration to the need for stability in government, particularly in the resources sector,’ Mr Gray said.

‘There have been half a dozen small business ministers in the past six years and we don’t need another change.’

Mr Gray said whether he would retain a Cabinet position if Mr Rudd won the election was a matter for after polling day.

‘I would serve the people of Brand and Parliament in whatever future capacity I was given,’ he said.

He expected Mr Rudd to visit Brand in coming weeks.

‘It is traditional for Labor leaders and prime ministers to visit Brand. We have never had a Liberal prime minister visit Brand ever,’ he said.

Mr Gray reiterated his opposition to the Mangles Bay marina proposal, saying he had made it known since 2007 that he was against any marina development at Point Peron, bringing the Federal environment minister to tour the area and relinquishing his ministerial responsibility for commonwealth lands.

‘A proposal in that area needs proper consideration of all the issues and regulators should make their decisions without the interference of politicians. Due to my conflict of interest I can’t be a part of those deliberations,’ he said.

‘It also allows me to express my opinion which is that I don’t support development of the project. The proponent should be able to have the project assessed in a proper way which can only be done if the decision makers are independent.’