The former prime minister called a late-night press conference in Washington DC to announce his decision and left open the possibility of launching a leadership challenge from the backbench.
“The truth is the Australian people regard this whole affair as little better than a soap opera, and they are right, and under current circumstances I won’t be part of it,” he said.
He had a pointed message for Labor MPs.
“There is one overriding question for my caucus colleagues, and that is who is best placed to defeat Tony Abbott at the next election.
“Mr Abbott, I believe, does not have the temperament or the experience to ever be elected to hold the high office of prime minister of Australia.
“But at present, and for a long time now, he has been on track just to do that.”
Mr Rudd says he will return home to Brisbane on Friday to consult with his family, community and colleagues about his future and announce his intentions before Parliament resumes on Monday.
The former prime minister, who was ousted from the job by Julia Gillard in June 2010, denied he had been plotting a comeback.
“There’s no way I would ever be party to a stealth attack on a sitting prime minister elected by the people,” he said.
“We all know that what happened then was wrong and it must never happen again.”
Mr Rudd says he has had to conclude he no longer has the confidence of the Prime Minister following a string of public “attacks” from senior Gillard supporters.
“When challenged today on these attacks Prime Minister Gillard chose not to repudiate them – I can only reluctantly conclude that she therefore shares these views,” he said.
“The simple truth is that I cannot continue to serve as foreign minister if I do not have Prime Minister Gillard’s support. (ABC News)