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Leadership talk rumbles in capital

Date

Michelle Grattan

Bill Shorten.

Bill Shorten. Photo: Penny Bradfield

CABINET minister Bill Shorten has rejected suggestions he might run on a joint leadership ticket that would replace Julia Gillard with Kevin Rudd.

As Labor MPs reeled from yesterday's Newspoll that had the ALP on a 27 per cent primary vote with the Coalition on 51 per cent a spokesman for Mr Shorten, who is overseas, said a joint ticket was ''a non-starter''.

''It's moving into fiction,'' the spokesman said, after a report that some MPs had canvassed trying to persuade Mr Shorten to back the idea of a joint ticket.

The Newspoll had the Coalition leading on the two party vote 59-41 per cent, which would be a wipeout for Labor. The Coalition primary vote is the highest since 2001, when John Howard campaigned on border security.

While there is an increasing feeling in Labor that something must be done, the party is stuck for a solution. Mr Rudd is still deeply unpopular with many MPs, and the alternatives, who include Mr Shorten, are not seen as having sufficient electoral pull.

Mr Shorten was among those who helped install Ms Gillard and how he positions himself will be important, especially as he can influence a number of caucus votes.

Asked what he thought should happen, former PM Bob Hawke, who has been close to Ms Gillard, trod carefully. "While Julia herself would be the first to admit she has made some mistakes, she has, in very many respects, shown strong leadership and she deserves acknowledgement of, and respect for this," he told The Age.

Pressed on whether this was support for Ms Gillard continuing as leader, Mr Hawke - who was recently at The Lodge to rev up the caucus - said he was "not going into public debate on this issue - my statement speaks for itself''.

He dismissed as "absolutely untrue" caucus rumours that he had been saying in private that Climate Change Minister Greg Combet should become leader.

Government whip Joel Fitzgibbon, via Twitter, strongly denied a report that he had told Ms Gillard he was withdrawing his support for her.

Mr Howard predicted that the Labor Party would replace Ms Gillard. ''I think it's more likely than not they will bring back Kevin Rudd,'' he said.

Caucus sources said Labor MPs were ''very nervous'' after yesterday's poll. But while there is a lot of talk, no real organisation for change was going on at the moment.

Families Minister Jenny Macklin said there was ''a whole range of issues feeding into the polls''. Asked if Ms Gillard should continue as PM, Ms Macklin said: ''She certainly should''.

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson - who supported Mr Rudd in the vote earlier this year - when asked whether the Rudd supporters had been vindicated by the fact the PM had not managed to improve in the polls said: ''That's ancient history. I'm focused on Tuesday of next week - the budget''.

He said Labor had thrown government away in WA and Victoria. ''We should never have lost those two states - whereas New South Wales, we knew it was coming.''

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266 comments

  • Given the honesty of this government, we can pretty well take it for granted that it will happen then.

    Commenter
    rp
    Date and time
    May 02, 2012, 7:17AM
    • Where does that leave the Murdoch media, especially the "Australian" that has been running a continuously negative line against P.M. Gillard.

      "Given the ...." of Murdoch & Co. can we have any faith in what we are being told by media ?

      Commenter
      J. Fraser
      Location
      Queensland
      Date and time
      May 02, 2012, 7:46AM
    • Its a given.

      Commenter
      Reality
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 02, 2012, 7:46AM
    • Tp be fair, Shorton has no intention of taking over the leadership of Labor before the next election - why would he?

      Far better for him to sit back, let Gillard cop all the blame, then step into the job after the election (assuming he retains his seat).

      But if people thought that Rudd was a megolomaniac, arrogant control-freak; just wait until they see Shorton - he makes Rudd look like a pussy cat.

      Commenter
      rob1966
      Date and time
      May 02, 2012, 7:46AM
    • Well rp, if it's honesty you want in your politics I refer you to Michael Mc's post.
      Tony "The Christian" Abbott is already in weasel-word mode denying he had any "specific knowledge of any Liberal Party involvement in the matter.
      Abbott leaned well at his master's knee.

      Commenter
      Sammy
      Date and time
      May 02, 2012, 7:57AM
    • Yep Christopher Pynes favourite song. "Hello" or should that of been "I just called to say I Love You"...hahahahahahahahhahah Take you glasses off..hahahahahahaha.

      Commenter
      Honesty
      Date and time
      May 02, 2012, 8:11AM
    • rp how fatuous!considering "children overboard" and "Iraq and weapons of mass destruction"what a non comment this is,Policy debate please!

      Commenter
      owena
      Date and time
      May 02, 2012, 8:12AM
    • Dear J.Fraser/Sammy/Honesty - the article we're commenting on is discussing the leadership debacle in the ALP. When you ignore all that and just launch into the usual anti LNP/Murdoch mantra all other readers stop reading.
      I'm sure there's a labor chat site you can get on to and vent all day.
      Same goes for LNP supporters BTW in reverse.

      Commenter
      wennicks
      Date and time
      May 02, 2012, 8:22AM
    • @ J Fraser, stop making limp excuses for Labor's inadequacies and serial mistakes. Labor is incompetent and ALL the media is calling it out, not just the Murdoch press alone. It is pretty obvious now that Gillard, Swan and the their cronies are like someone drowning, just trying to cling to life for a moment longer. If they truly loved this country and their party they would go to an election and stop this pathetic sideshow.... that would show strong leadership Gillard.

      Commenter
      OverIT
      Date and time
      May 02, 2012, 8:25AM
    • Today's Wednesday so it must be time for an election .... ho ho ho Trasher Abbott.

      Today's Wednesday so it must be time for another article about a challenge against P.M. Gillard.

      Ho ho & ho .... how about "wennicks" & "OverIT" start using their own little grey matter and form an opinion about the current state of political affairs in Australia as opposed to that put out by the Murdoch empire.

      Commenter
      J. Fraser
      Location
      Queensland
      Date and time
      May 02, 2012, 8:48AM

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