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Left jab forces Gillard to defend her leadership

Julia Gillard's leadership is being further damaged as Labor's Left faction demands she drop all plans for offshore processing of asylum-seekers.

The Left's revolt follows the disastrous outcome for the Government from the High Court's refusal to allow the proposed people swap with Malaysia.

As the row over Prime Minister Gillard's judgment continued, the faction insisted cabinet return to Labor Party policy that excludes sending boat people to another country to process their claims for refugee status.

But Ms Gillard is defying her critics within the Government, vowing to remain in her post until the election in two years.

''I'm not going anywhere, I've got too much to do,'' she said.

She was backed by a string of ministers who said she faced no challenge.


And amid speculation he's considering a run at federal politics, former Queensland premier Peter Beattie warned federal Labor MPs yesterday to hold their nerve and resist any temptation to roll Ms Gillard. Mr Beattie said now was not the time to change leaders, and also ruled out running at the next federal election. ''A change in leaders at this time will destroy the Labor Party government,'' he said yesterday

''Some people would like to see that, but in terms of the country's stability I don't think that's a good thing.''

Meanwhile, asked about Kevin Rudd's continued popularity, Ms Gillard said yesterday she was the best person to lead the nation. She also stood by her criticism of the High Court ruling that ''changed the law''. ''What I did was point out matters of fact, and I think Australians are entitled to those facts and I don't resile from one word of what I said yesterday,'' she said.

However, the Law Council criticised Ms Gillard's attacks on High Court Chief Justice Robert French as highly inappropriate, saying the court had done nothing out of the ordinary when it effectively ended the so-called ''Malaysian solution''. Law Council president Alexander Ward said questioning the consistency of Chief Justice French was disappointing and that the High Court's decisions should be respected, even though they were not always going to receive unanimous support from the community.

''It is highly inappropriate to single out the Chief Justice for particular criticism.

''His honour was one of six judges who were in the majority in this case and the legal principles established by the case are very clear,'' he said.

Ms Gillard will not issue the legal advice on which the Government based its defence of the High Court challenge, but will publish the legal advice to be received from Solicitor-General Stephen Gageler on whether offshore processing can continue after the judgment.

She would not be drawn on whether she wanted to send asylum-seekers to Nauru but refused to repeat her previous criticism that John Howard's Pacific Solution was wrong in principle.

Although the Left does not have the numbers in caucus to force cabinet's hand, the faction is expected to call for an urgent debate on asylum-seeker policy when Parliament returns in a week.

ACT Labor Senator Kate Lundy said yesterday she would not support using Nauru to process asylum-seekers or any return to the ''Pacific Solution''.

''My reading, contrary to claims by the Liberals, is that this High Court decision puts in doubt all offshore processing,'' she said.

Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten, who helped install Ms Gillard as Prime Minister mid-last year, said she was a strong leader and had his full support. Environment Minister Tony Burke also dismissed the suggestions Ms Gillard's job was under threat.