The Age newspaper uses editorial to urge Prime Minister Julia Gillard to quit
The Age newspaper has taken the unusual step of calling for Prime Minister Julia Gillard to stand aside "for the good of the nation".
The editorial says the leadership debate is preventing Labor's message about its future policies and vision for Australia getting through to the public.
The newspaper's move comes amid continued speculation about Labor's leadership ahead of the final week of parliamentary sittings before the September 14 election.
Yesterday Gillard supporter Gary Gray told former prime minister Kevin Rudd and his supporters to "put up or shut up", while factional powerbroker Bill Shorten said he did not believe there would be a ballot before the election.
In the editorial, The Age says it has not taken its position lightly. It says it has respect for the Prime Minister, and hopes the reforms she has implemented will remain in place.
The newspaper says Mr Rudd was a flawed leader and it is not convinced he is a changed man, but that opinion polls suggest his return would make the election a genuine contest.
It says time is running out and the time for leadership change is now.
Editor-in-chief Andrew Holden says the editorial was published with great reluctance.
He says usually it is better for the Prime Minister to be chosen by the people, but the current situation is exceptional.
"It's come now because essentially there's one sitting week left of Parliament," he said.
"There's one opportunity for the Labor caucus to make that decision and ultimately it is their decision.
"We considered it earlier this year at a previous sitting when obviously there was a lot of talk around Rudd challenging and the challenge that wasn't. We considered at that time and thought it wasn't appropriate."