Sydney:  Leadership tensions within Australia's ruling Labor party erupted on Sunday with the release of a video showing ex-prime minister Kevin Rudd on an expletive-ridden rant about a Chinese interpreter.
The two-minute video, uploaded onto YouTube by a user calling themselves "HappyVegemiteKR", shows an irate Rudd trying to record a message in Mandarin and railing against the "dickhead in the embassy" who wrote the text.

"This f****g language, he just complicates it so much. How can anyone do this?" Rudd, a former diplomat who speaks Mandarin, shouts as he slams his fist on the table in front of him.

Rudd was ousted as leader in a shock party coup in June 2010 by his deputy, Julia Gillard, who scraped back into power at elections and is now badly lagging in the polls.

Speculation has intensified in recent weeks that Rudd, currently Australia's foreign minister, is preparing to challenge for the top job.

He denied this but said a suspicious person would question the "unusual" timing of the video's release, given that it was shot several years ago when he was still prime minister.

Such out-takes footage is usually destroyed but Rudd said the video in question had clearly been archived by the prime minister's office or some other government department. Gillard's office denied leaking the footage.

Rudd also insisted that he was a changed man and had learned to be less controlling and to consult more broadly -- two key criticisms that saw him lose office.

"As to whether (I have) changed in any fundamental way, that's a judgement for others to make, but I've certainly reflected a lot in the past several years," Rudd told Sky News.
He said he was "embarrassed" by the swearing and he had been frustrated with himself, not the interpreter.

Independent lawmaker Andrew Wilkie fuelled speculation of a challenge to Gillard, claiming that he and Rudd discussed the issue back in November and he "clearly wants the job back".

"There will be a challenge and I suspect he may well be successful," said Wilkie.

Gillard admitted that the leadership tensions were hurting her government.

"This kind of focus over the last few weeks means it's more difficult for me to be out there explaining to people what's happening in our economy," Gillard said.

She deflected questions about her leadership and said it was an "incredible privilege" to lead the country.