Cartoon: By Nicholson.
One of the major hurdles to replacing Julia Gillard as PM has been the danger of her coalition partners refusing to accept such a move. Now the Greens leader Bob Brown has indicated has announced that the replacement of Gillard would not necessarily be a deal breaker:
Amid fresh leadership rumblings in Labor, the Greens leader said the Labor leadership was "up to them."
“We are in an arrangement with the Labor government and we made that arrangement with Julia Gillard as leader of the Labor government,” said Senator Brown. “But who Labor appoints as their leader is up to them.”There will be speculation as to whether the independents will follow suit. Tony Windsor has stated that he is ambivalent on the issue. Rob Oakeshott, after initially indicating his acceptance of a new leader if it occurs, has now said that a change would cause him to reflect on his support for the minority Labor government:
The Greens' position could encourage supporters of former leader Kevin Rudd, who it's claimed is quietly working the phones to pave the way for a future leadership comeback. Senior Labor figures have rejected reports of leadership tensions.
However Labor MP Shayne Neumann today fuelled speculation that Mr Rudd was building support for a return to The Lodge when he repeatedly refused to say if he had spoken to the Foreign Minister about the leadership.
Mr Oakeshott said Ms Gillard was central to his support for Labor as the “sole negotiator” with the crossbenchers after last year's cliffhanger election.Oakeshott is a compulsive windbag and attention seeker, which is probably what this statement is all about. He will be looking for the opportunity to be the centre of attention after Gillard is rolled as well as another chance to make a long boring speech to a captive audience. It’s a safe bet he will stay with Labor.
“I think, obviously, if they make any change of leadership that is a point of reflection for myself and other crossbenchers,” Mr Oakeshott told Sky News.
Andrew Wilkie from Tasmania is probably the biggest risk for a new leader. He has stated in the past that a change from Gillard would be a deal breaker, although it is difficult to see him supporting the Liberals. He is however a zealot and therefore nothing can be ruled out. Were Abbott to agree to swap Liberal preferences in his seat in exchange for a no confidence vote to bring down the government he might play ball.