No peace in sight for Labor caucus
Date February 21, 2013 60 reading now
Senior political correspondent
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Divisions within Julia Gillard’s Labor caucus are showing no signs of healing with her critics slamming suggestions their preference for Kevin Rudd was driven by resentment at being overlooked for promotion.
Backers of a leadership change said a series of bad polls for Labor were the inevitable result of ”a catalogue of mistakes” under Ms Gillard’s leadership, singling out the abandoned surplus pledge and the underperforming mining tax.
”We have somehow arranged this so that our toughest budget yet is the one just before the election,” said one exasperated MP.
Julia Gillard. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
He said several MPs were moving across as the reality of the September election dawned.
However, no numbers were being counted and no names have been provided.
But one of the government’s most senior ministers said claims of a groundswell in caucus were nothing more than an attempt to manufacture momentum.
”We’ve been down this road before,” said the minister, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
”We’ve been in a similar space before and that’s where we were at the beginning of last year and, of course, after all the sound and fury, we saw a resounding vote.
”I don’t think anything substantial has changed since then.”
A ballot for the leadership in February 2012 resulted in Ms Gillard securing 71 votes to Mr Rudd’s 31, despite claims by his supporters of significantly higher support.
The minister’s frustrations were aired as attention swung to Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten, whose support for Ms Gillard is seen as crucial to her survival.
Touted as a future Labor leader, Mr Shorten was travelling on Wednesday and unavailable for comment. But sources close to him said he remained solidly behind Ms Gillard.
With the ALP rocked by this week’s Age/Nielsen poll showing its primary vote slumping to 30 per cent, MPs critical of Ms Gillard repeated claims that something must be done.
They said dissatisfaction was both ”real and widespread”.
”If they think it’s just a dozen or so people, well, these are the same people who did the numbers on the mining tax,” the MP said.
The jibe was directed squarely at Ms Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan, the architects of the minerals resource rent tax that raised just a fraction of its expected revenue over its first six months of operation.
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