ALP MPs say another spill by June 3: Pyne
By Ed Logue and Katina Curtis, AAPUpdated March 24, 2013, 7:29 pm
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More resignations in Labor cabinet
More heads have rolled today following Labor’s botched leadership coup with Martin Ferguson and Kim Carr the latest to resign.
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Opposition frontbencher Christopher Pyne says he’s receiving text messages from Labor MPs still agitating for Julia Gillard’s removal as prime minister before the election.
Mr Pyne’s claim comes as the first opinion poll since the ALP leadership spill shows most voters believe the office of the prime minister has been damaged, as the party’s primary vote languishes at rock-bottom lows.
He said he rejected former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s statement that he would never return as Labor’s leader following events of the past week.
“I’m still getting text messages from supporters of his in the caucus telling me that they plan to remove Julia Gillard in 71 days (June 3),” Mr Pyne told ABC television on Sunday.
“So the civil war continues and the losers from this are the Australian people.”
Mr Rudd did not contest the ballot when he realised he lacked the numbers after Ms Gillard declared the leadership vacant on Thursday to end months of speculation.
A Galaxy Poll released on Sunday showed 56 per cent of Labor voters said the prime minister’s office had been damaged by leadership instability, while 87 per cent of coalition voters agreed.
The coalition had a two-party preferred vote of 55 per cent to Labor’s 45 per cent, which would give the opposition a 39-seat majority with a uniform swing at the September 14 election.
Senior minister Anthony Albanese called on the party on Sunday to unite and fight Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and the coalition instead of itself.
But Mr Pyne said Mr Albanese should not to be a part of Ms Gillard’s new cabinet when she reshapes her ministry for the sixth time in nearly three years after eight Rudd supporters stood down last week.
Mr Pyne said it was untenable for Mr Albanese and fellow cabinet members Mark Butler and Bob Carr to continue in their roles given their apparent support for Mr Rudd.
“You can’t have Anthony Albanese leading the House for Julia Gillard in whom he hasn’t expressed confidence, whom he wanted to replace her deputy prime minister and treasurer with himself,” Mr Pyne said.
Mr Albanese, however, says he will not resign.
“I believe it is certainly in the Labor Party’s interest collectively that I continue to do the job that I’ve done both as a minister and particularly as Leader of the House,” the transport minister told Sky News.
Ms Gillard refused to comment on her new cabinet while attending events in Melbourne and Sydney on Sunday.
After delivering a short speech at Greek Independence Day celebrations in Sydney, her only comment to reporters was: “It’s a great day for our Greek community.”
The coalition plans to place a no-confidence motion in the government when parliament returns on May 14.
Mr Abbott said if the crossbenchers were listening to their electorates they would join the coalition and vote for it.
Mr Pyne said a successful no-confidence motion could lead to a House of Representatives and half Senate election in July.
The Australian Electorate Commission states an election before August 3 would be for the House of Representatives and the four territory senators only.
Former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke said it was a “very disappointing” time for his party.
Mr Hawke, prime minister from 1983 until 1991, said Labor had to pull together.
“My message not just to the prime minister but to all ministers is to get on with the business of governing,” he told the Seven Network on Sunday.
Asked if the government could turn it around, Labor’s longest serving prime minister replied: “It’s possible, it’s a hard job.”