ALP leadership debate likely to continue

Katina Curtis, AAPMarch 10, 2013, 4:44 pm



As federal Labor MPs pack their suitcases to return to Canberra this week they could well bring further leadership speculation with them.

The question of who should lead the party went on the backburner during Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s western Sydney tour last week.

But Labor’s crushing defeat in the West Australian election on Saturday combined with a likely poor Newspoll result on Tuesday could again spark discussion.

WA premier Colin Barnett says the state election result – in which the Liberals retained all the seats they won in 2008 and add several more – had nothing to do with federal politics.

But senior federal politicians from WA including Defence Minister Stephen Smith said it was a reflection on the sorry state of Labor.

A Galaxy poll, published in News Limited on Sunday, showed voters split between Ms Gillard, Kevin Rudd or some other Labor figure as prime minister.

A third of voters said they wanted a fresh start while a similar amount favoured Ms Gillard.

Mr Rudd came in as the third choice, with 26 per cent wanting him to return as Labor’s leader.

With this the final parliamentary fortnight before the May budget, Labor backbenchers are expected to raise the issue of increasing the Newstart allowance during the partyroom meeting.

Community sector lobby groups have called for a $50-a-week increase as well as a boost in work incentives.

There is also expected to be caucus discussion on 457 temporary work visas – a hot topic during Ms Gillard’s western Sydney sojourn.

Some MPs say the program is good for economic growth and shouldn’t be talked down while others back the prime minister in cracking down on rorts.

In the chambers, debate on the national disability insurance scheme is expected to wrap up in the House of Representatives.

It should pass easily with the opposition indicating it will support the legislation.
The Senate will be looking at the recognition act for indigenous people and legislation to beef up the sports anti-doping authority’s powers in the wake of the Australian Crime Commission revelations of drug use across sporting codes.

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