Julia Gillard-led Labor told to work together in harmony to avoid defeat

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Julia Gillard-led Labor told to work together in harmony to avoid defeat

Lanai Scarr
News Limited Network
March 11, 201310:29AM

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• Labor needs to focus on good governance, says Gary Gray
• Voters need to see a united front, minister says
• Party needs to listen to voters to avoid massacre at next election
•Gillard should have come to WA: Barnett
•PM fumes over Smith’s comments on WA result

Labor voters don’t accept Prime Minister Julia Gillard as their leader, says Alannah MacTiernan. Picture: Don Arnold/Getty Images Source: Getty Images

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ONE of Julia Gillard’s most senior ministers says federal Labor needs to put end to the “backbiting” and “undermining” rife within the party if it is to avoid a similar electoral wipeout suffered by its state WA counterparts at the weekend election.

Special Minister of State Gary Gray this morning said it was important his colleagues remained calm in the face of future party polling likely to be dismal for the Gillard government.

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Mr Gray, one of three West Australian federal Labor MPs, said WA Premier Colin Barnett was returned to victory on the weekend in a landslide because he was able to keep his party focused on policy, rather than internal matters.

He said he agreed with Defence Minister Stephen Smith’s comments on Saturday about federal Labor’s woes filtering through to the WA election.

“Premier Barnett the Liberal party and the National party were able to work together in harmony by not sniping internally by not backbiting, by focusing on good governance and focusing on that rather than on themselves,” Mr Gray told ABC radio.

“I am not to suggest that there can be no implications for both us federally and also implications on a state result from federal behaviours but also I think what both Stephen (Smith) and (Immigration Minister) Brendan (O’Connor) identify is the core the core of the reason for Colin Barnett’s ascendency is that is that he has been able to manage a caucus and his parliamentarians have behaved towards each other and towards the political objectives of the government in a unified and harmonious way.”

Labor lost at least seven seats in the weekend state election, as Mr Barnett celebrated the Liberals’ performance in winning enough seats to govern on its own.

The WA Liberals and the Nationals will form a coalition with a predicted 40 seats of 59, while Labor could slide from 27 to 19.

MPs believe the state disasters point to an expected massacre at a federal level in September, when a 7 per cent swing would potentially wipe 30 seats from Labor.

School Education Minister Peter Garrett said there was “no doubt you do get some spill over” to the federal government from state polls, but that Ms Gillard was working hard to put substantial policies in place.

“People will put their views out there, what is important is to maintain complete focus on the policies this government wants to deliver right up until the election,” Mr Garrett told ABC News 24.

Federal opposition frontbencher Michael Keenan, a WA Liberal MP, said Labor should note the message from the state poll.

“If I was one of the three sitting members for Labor in Western Australia, I would be very worried about the implication of this election for me,” he told ABC radio.

This morning’s commentary follows a rebuke by Ms Gillard to Mr Smith to tone down his comments on the WA election.

The Prime Minister was reported to be furious with Mr Smith who conceded the Gillard government had been a “drag” on WA Labor leader Mark McGowan.

Former WA Labor candidate Alannah MacTiernan slammed Ms Gillard, saying she was to blame for the party’s woes and should immediately step down.

Ms MacTiernan, now the mayor of the city of Vincent, said the overwhelming sentiment from doorstops and shopping centres in Labor’s heartland was that voters supported state Labor but not federal Labor and Julia Gillard.

Julia Gillard: Hanging on by a thread

June 24, 2010

Gillard becomes Australia’s first female Prime Minister after challenging Kevin Rudd. The incident becomes known as the ‘knifing’ of Rudd.

August 2, 2010

The PM says it’s time voters had a chance to see the “real Julia”. The move backfires when people ask: if it’s now time to see the real Julia, who was she before?

December 15, 2010

At least 30 asylum seekers die when their ramshackle boat breaks up after being tossed against cliffs in rough seas off Christmas Island. The incident reignites debate about boat arrivals in Australia.

January 2011

Gillard visits flood-ravaged Queensland, and is criticised by some commentators for lack of warmth. Her one-off flood levy to help Queenslanders recover is highly controversial.

February 24, 2011

Gillard breaks an election promise in announcing a carbon tax. Tony Abbott slams the announcement as “an utter betrayal of the Australian people”.

March 21, 2011

Gillard cops flack when she reveals she is opposed to gay marriage and, despite being an atheist, that she thinks it’s important for people to understand the Bible.

March 23, 2011

A carbon tax protest rally led by Tony Abbott in Canberra turns personal when anti-government demonstrators start chanting “ditch the bitch”. Placards at the rally read “Ju-Liar” and “Bob Brown’s bitch”.

May 7, 2011

The Gillard Government announces it is close to signing the “Malaysia Solution”. Issues surrounding human rights and unaccompanied children then dog the government.

May 18, 2011

The Prime Minister flicks the switch on the National Broadband Network on mainland Australia. Many commentators and the Opposition call it waste of money but Gillard says naysayers are out of touch.

May 30, 2011

The government suspends live exports after Four Corners exposes brutal mistreatment of Australian cattle in Indonesian slaughterhouses. Pastoralists’ livelihoods suffer as their cattle remain in limbo.

June 15, 2011

Newspoll shows support for Julia Gillard has crashed to a record low of just 30 per cent. The figure is lower than Kevin Rudd’s was when she replaced him.

September 27, 2011

Kevin Rudd adds fuel to leadership speculation when he makes a gaffe on ABC Radio: “I’m a very happy little vegemite being prime minister … being foreign minister of Australia.”

November 23, 2011

The mining tax is passed after parliament sits late into the night. The Opposition vows to repeal the tax if elected and accuses the Government of secretive “backdoor deals”.

November 24, 2011

Canberra is stunned by a deal installing Peter Slipper, a member of the Queensland Liberals, as Speaker of the House of Representatives. It shores up the government’s numbers but the ousting of Harry Jenkins, a popular and effective Speaker, is seen has harsh.

December 2, 2011

Gillard is widely criticised for “airbrushing” Kevin Rudd from ALP history at the party’s National Conference in Sydney.

January 22, 2012

Gillard reneges on a deal with key independent Andrew Wilkie to introduce measures to tackle problem gambling. Wilkie pulls his support from the government in retaliation. The move puts a new complexion on the installation of Slipper as Speaker.

January 26, 2012

One of Gillard’s key advisors is forced to resign after admitting he tipped off Aboriginal activists to incorrect reports that Tony Abbott wanted to close the tent embassy.

February 24, 2012

Kevin Rudd announces he will contest the leadership, saying Gillard has lost the confidence of the Australian people.

February 27, 2012

Gillard retains the top job after winning the challenge 71-31, but it comes at a cost as Mark Arbib resigns.

March 26, 2012

Queensland Labor is stunned with a landslide state election reducing the party to a rump in the parliament. Gillard says she respects the “shouted” message from voters, but rejects claims it serves as a warning to her own Government.

April 23, 2012

The PM is forced to defend her decision to appoint Peter Slipper as Speaker after allegations he abused his Cabcharge account and sexually harassed a former adviser.

April 29, 2012

Gillard accepts Craig Thompson’s resignation and stands Peter Slipper aside indefinitely. She says the scandals have “crossed a line”, but some commentators see it as another complete U-turn.

May 8, 2012

Voters were unconvinced by Gillard’s 2012 Federal Budget offering $5 billion in cost-of-living offset measures to counteract the impact of the Carbon Tax.

May 9, 2012

Gillard said she was “deeply disturbed” that a three-year investigation by Fair Work Australia found suspended Labor MP Craig Thomson had spent almost $500,000 of union members’ funds on prostitutes, fine dining, hotels, cash withdrawals, air travel and electioneering.

May 10, 2012

Gillard declared that US President Barak Obama’s support for same-sex marriage would not change her own view on the issue.

June 21, 2012

About 90 asylum seekers were lost at sea after a boat capsized north-west of Christmas Island. Rescue attempts successfully pulled 109 out of the water.

June 28, 2012

A second asylum-seeking vessel sank, claiming the lives of at least four people. Merchant and naval vessels rescued 125.

August 12, 2012

Gillard was forced into a major back-down by announcing the Government would nominate Nauru and Manus Island to be reopened as offshore processing facilities for asylum seekers.

August 18, 2012

It was revealed Julia Gillard had been under investigation when she resigned from her law firm Slater and Gordon in 1995. Questions had been raised about work she had done for her then boyfriend, a union boss accused of corruption.

August 23, 2012

The Australian reveals that Gillard admitted that the entity she set up for Wilson was a slush fund to raise cash for the re-election of union officials. Gillard breaks her silence, denying any wrongdoing and declaring the story is part of a sexist internet smear campaign.

October 9, 2012

A fiery speech by Prime Minister Julia Gillard slamming Opposition Leader Tony Abbott for being a misogynist gains global attention.

November 11, 2012

Wayne Hem swears in a statutory declaration that he made the Gillard payment and other payments after being instructed to do so by Bruce Wilson.

November 15, 2012

The Australian reveals that former AWU official Helmut Gries, who first raised concerns that union money may have been spent on Gillard’s renovations, now doubts that version of events.

January 28, 2013

First bloke Tim Mathieson attracts the wrong sort of attention for the following comment: “We can get a blood test for (prostate cancer), but the digital examination is the only true way to get a correct reading on your prostate, so make sure you go and do that, and perhaps look for a small Asian female doctor is probably the best way.”

January 30, 2013

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announces a September 14 election date, initiating one of the longest campaigns in Australian history.

January 31, 2103

Former Labor MP Craig Thomson is arrested at his electoral office on the NSW Central Coast and is charged with 150 offences relating to allegedly fraudulent use of union funds at the Health Services Union.

February 2, 2013

Ministers Nicola Roxon and Chris Evans announce their resignations ahead of the election.

February 19, 2013

Greens leader Christine Milne announces the end of her party’s minority government agreement with Labor over its failed mining tax. The Greens will continue to offer supply until the September election.

February 26, 2013

A Newspoll published in The Australian shows a five-point drop in support for Julia Gillard as preferred Prime Minister, giving Opposition Leader Tony Abbott a four point lead of 40 to 36 per cent. Last November, Ms Gillard enjoyed a 14-point lead in the preferred PM stakes.

“That was very strong,” she said, adding that she would be very concerned if the federal members in WA were viewing Labor’s good results in some areas and believing they were safe.

“That’s not what people were saying. It’s pretty simple and it’s pretty brutal and they are saying they don’t like Julia Gillard and they don’t believe her,” she told ABC television.

Ms MacTiernan said she took no pleasure in saying this as Ms Gillard had tried exceptionally hard, putting absolutely everything into it.

“But at the end of the day, the Labor voters have said we don’t accept her as our leader. If we do not take note of this, there is going to be an absolute massacre in the federal election,” she said.

Federal election 2013

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